Monday 23rd of May 2022
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The Need of the World for One Without Need

The principle of causality is a general and universal law and foundation for all efforts of man, both in the acquisition of knowledge and in his customary activities. The strivings of scholars to uncover the cause of every phenomenon, whether natural or social, arise from the belief that no phenomenon originates in and of itself without the intervention of causes and agents.

The researches of thinkers throughout the world have given them the ability to know better the powerful order of nature; the farther they advance on the path of knowledge, the more devoted they are to the principle of causality. The link between cause and effect and the principle that no phenomenon will set foot on the plain of being without a cause, are among the strongest deductions ever made by man and count as indispensable conditions for intellectual activity. They represent something natural and primordial, assimilated automatically by our minds.

Even prehistoric man was inclined to discover the causes of phenomena, and, in fact, philosophers derived the living concept of causality from the very nature and disposition of man before they placed it in a philosophical mould. Imprisoned as we are within the four walls of matter, we never encounter anything accidental in life, and, indeed, no one ever encountered, in the history of the world, an accident not arising from a cause.

Were this not the case, we might have an excuse for regarding the universe as accidental in origin. What kind of accident might it be that from the dawn of being to the present has guided the infinite interactions of all things, in so wondrous, precise and orderly a fashion? Can the order we perceive be the reflection of mere accident and happenstance?


Any supposable phenomenon in the universe was submerged in the darkness of non-being before it assumed the form of being. It cannot pierce the darkness of non-being and step forth on the plain of being as an existent thing until the powerful hand of causality sets to work.

The relationship between cause and effect is the relationship between two existing things, in the sense that the existence of one of them is dependent on the existence of the other. Every effect has a relationship of affinity and harmony with its cause, since the effect draws its existence from the cause. This specific relationship cannot be destroyed or replaced by another.

Whenever you consider the quiddity of a thing that has an identical relationship to being and non-being, neither of them being rationally essential for it, that thing is technically designated as "contingent," in the sense that there is nothing within its essence necessitating either being or non-being.

If a thing in its own essence requires its own non-being, then its existence is impossible. Finally, if being emerges from within the essence of a thing in such a way that reason cannot regard it as dependent on anything else, the existence of that thing is designated as necessary. It is an independent being, free of all need and subsisting by means of its own essence; its existence is the source of all other beings, while it is not subject itself to any need or condition.

It should be added that material existence cannot in any way acquire the attribute "necessary," because the existence of any compounded material entity is conditional on the existence of the parts that comprise it; it is dependent on its own parts both for its origin and for its survival.

Matter has different aspects and dimensions; it is immersed in quantity and multiplicity; and it acquires its various dimensions by means of attributes and properties. The necessary being, by contrast, is free of all such properties.


All the phenomena that once did not exist and then came into being once possessed abstract notions of being and non-being. When they hastened toward the point of being, this was as a result of a cause that impelled them in that direction. It was an impulsion, an external factor, that drove them in one direction instead of the other. In other words, the existence of a cause was the agent of being, just as the non-existence or absence of a cause is the agent of non-being.

Of course, a phenomenon that comes into being as the result of the existence of a cause never loses its essential neediness; it will always remain a being characterized by need. For this reason, the need of a phenomenon for a cause is permanent and indissoluble; its relationship with the cause will never be severed for an instant.

Were the relationship to be severed, the existence of the phenomenon would immediately yield to non-existence, in just the same way that the very instant an electricity generator stops working, all the bright lamps connected to it fall dark. It is for this reason that cause and effect, freedom from need and subjection to need, are in constant relationship with each other; were the relationship to be severed nothing would remain but darkness and non-being.

Thus, no phenomenon becomes manifest in the world until a certain power is bestowed on it by one whose essence is free from need and is itself the very source from which being gushes forth. Were being inherent in the essences of phenomena, they would never follow the path of cessation and non-being. But it is neediness that is inherent in their essences, so that even after their being is established in the order of creation, their attribute of neediness continues under all circumstances. They are never free of need for a cause; it is impossible that an effect should enjoy existence independently or continue to exist for a single instant without relying on a cause.

It thus becomes apparent to us that all phenomena—all contingent beings—derive at all times and in every instant from an infinite essence that bestows being—i.e., the Necessary Being, the Unique and Almighty Creator—the power and sustenance that permit them to come into being and remain in being.

The Noble Quran says: "He it is Who from the plenitude of His essence has bestowed on us the capital of being." (53:48) "O mankind, you are in need of your Lord; it is only His unique essence that is free of need and worthy of praise." (35:15)

Let us pay heed, too, to this Quranic summons: "Do they imagine that they've been created without any cause, or do they suppose that they are their own creators?" (52:36) "Have they created the heavens and the earth ? They have no certain belief in what they say" (52:37) Do they have a Lord other than God? No, it b not so; God is exalted above the partners they ascribe to him." (52:43) "Glorified be He in Whose hand is a11 sovereignty and Who has power over an things." (67:1)

The followers of materialism pay much critical attention to the principle that God does not stand in need of a cause. They say if we suppose the Creator to be the origin of the world and the one who bestows existence upon it, all phenomena deriving their origination and continued existence from him, what cause has freed him of need for having a creator; what agent has caused him to come into being?

In a lecture given to the London Atheist Society, the wellknown writer, Bertrand Russell, said: "One day, when I was eighteen years of age, I was reading the autobiography of John Stuart Mill. One sentence in particular caught my attention: Mill wrote that one day he asked his father who had brought him into existence, and his father had been unable to answer." The reason for this was that he immediately posed the question: who brought God into being?

Russell then adds: "I am still convinced that that simple sentence exposes the sophistry of the primary cause. For if everything must have a reason and cause, the same must apply to the existence of God. If, on the contrary, something can exist without reason or cause, that thing might be either God or the world, and the whole discussion becomes meaningless."

Unfortunately, certain Western philosophers who accept the existence of God have been unable to solve this problem. The English philosopher Herbert Spencer has said the following in this connection: "The problem is that, on the one hand, human reason seeks a cause for everything and, on the other, refuses all circularity. It neither perceives nor comprehends an uncaused cause. When the priest tells a child that God has created the world, the child asks who has created God."

Elsewhere he says: "The materialist tries to convince himself of a world that exists in and of itself, eternally and without cause. However, we cannot believe in something that has neither beginning nor cause. The theologian takes matters one step further back by saying that God created the world. But the child asks him the unanswerable question: who created God?''

We can raise precisely the same objection against the materialists and ask them, "If we follow the chain of causality back, we will ultimately reach the primary cause. Let us say that cause is not God, but matter. Tell us who created primary matter. You who believe in the law of causality, answer us Ws: if matter is the ultimate cause of all things, what is the cause of matter? You say that the source of all phenomena is matter-energy; what is the cause and origin of matter-energy?"

Since the chain of causality cannot recede into infinity, they can answer only that matter is an eternal and timeless entity for which no beginning can be posited: matter is non-created, has no beginning or end, and its being arises from within its own nature.

This means that the materialists accept the principle of eternity and non-origination; they believe that all things arose out of eternal matter and that being arises from within the very nature of matter, without any need for a creator. Russell openly states this belief in the lecture quoted above. He says: "There is no proof that the world ever had a beginning. The idea that things must once have had a beginning results from the poverty of our imagination."

In just the same way that Russell regards matter as eternal, believers in God attribute eternity to God. Belief in an eternal being is then common to materialist and religious philosophers: both groups agree that there is a primary cause, but believers in God regard the primary cause as wise, all-knowing, and possessing the power of decision and will, whereas in the view of the materialists, the primary cause has neither consciousness, intelligence, perception, nor the power of decision. Thus, the removal of God in no way solves the problem posed by eternal being.

Moreover, matter is the locus for motion and change, and its motion is dynamic and situated within its own essence. Now, essential motion is incompatible with eternity, and matter and essential stability are two mutually exclusive categories that cannot be fused in a single locus. Whatever is stable and immutable in its essence cannot accept movement and change within that essence.

How do Marxists, who believe that matter is accompanied by its antithesis, justify the eternity of matter? Eternity means stability and immutability of essence, the impossibility of cessation, but matter is in its essence a compendium of forces and potentialities; it is relativity itself, totally caught up in living and dying.

Eternity is incompatible with the mode of being possessed by matter and the factors and attributes necessitated by its nature. The belief of those who have faith in God concerning a fixed and absolute principle relates to a being who in and of his nature can accept stability and absoluteness; his nature is completely devoid of and remote from the properties of matter. The very nature of matter refuses permanence, eternity and continuity, for it can never separate itself from movement, relativity, and it stands in opposition to being a prime or absolute agent.

It will be useful here to relate the discussion of Imam Sadiq, upon whom be peace, with one of the materialists of his age. The materialist: "Out of what were beings created?"

The Imam: "They were created out of nothing (i.e., they were originally non-beings)."

The materialist: "How do they grow and emerge from nonbeing?" The Imam: "Did I not say that all things in the world were created out of nothing? My purport is this, that all beings were originally non-beings; they were non-existent, and then they became existent. You wish to say that the world is eternal, but this notion is incorrect for the following reasons:

"First, if the material world is eternal, it follows that an eternal being should be subject to change and cessation, which is impossible. "Second, if the elements comprising the world are eternal by virtue of their essence, how is it possible that they should enter the embrace of death and disappearance? And if, conversely, they lack life in their essences, how can life surge forth from them?

"If you say that living beings emerge from living elements and inanimate beings from inanimate elements, we reply that an essence that lacks life in and of itself cannot be eternal and cannot be the source for life." The materialist: "If matter is as you say, why are beings said to be eternal?"

The Imam: "Belief in the eternity of the universe is held by those who deny the existence of a ruler and planner of creation, reject the messengers of God, regard the books they bring as the fables of the ancients, and concoct beliefs pleasing to themselves."


We say, then, that the existence of a thing is not possible without a cause of a deficient thing, that is, whose fate is in the hands of its cause and whose permanence is dependent on the existence of its cause. This does not apply to a being that is conscious of its reality and exhibits no trace of defect and limitation.

The primary cause is the primary cause by virtue of possessing perfect and unlimited being; not being subject to any agent, it is free from need, condition and dependency, and it contains no trace of mutability or change.

When we speak of the first cause and simultaneously assert that God is free of all need for a cause, we do not mean that He generally shares with created beings the need for a cause but was once, as it were, granted an exemption from the law of causality. God is not an effect in order that He might need a cause; He is not a phenomenon in order that He might need a creator. On the contrary, all manifestations and phenomena of being derive from Him, the eternal source of being. The law of causality applies uniquely to the sphere of those things whose non-existence preceded their existence.

Similarly, the meaning of the first cause is not that God originated Himself, that He was His own cause. The need of the effect for the cause lies in the type of existence that the former possesses; it exists not because it is essentially existent but as a result of the derivative and dependent existence it acquires from the cause. But a being whose nature is subject to no condition and exhibits a complete absence of dependence and connection is totally removed from the sphere in which the law of causality operates.

If a being, by virtue of the perfection and freedom from need of its essence, stands in no need of a cause, it follows that no cause has fixed it at a given degree of being and that no cause can intervene in it. The chain of causality cannot be extended indefinitely backwards, and an absence of connection is inherent in the very concept of the first cause. The question, "Whence did the first cause arise?" does not, therefore, arise; questions such as this apply only to the origins of phenomena and their dependency.

The existence of the first cause is identical with its essence; its being the first cause is, indeed, also identical with its essence. Both these properties imply freedom from need, whereas things whose existence is borrowed stand in need of a cause, because they are characterized by transformation and change, by emergence from non-existence and entry into existence.

How can it be supposed that belief in the existence of God is the acceptance of contradiction, whereas belief in the uncaused nature of an effect such as matter is not contradictory?

We live in a world where all things are exposed to change and destruction; there is the mark of impermanence, subjection and indebtedness imprinted on each one of its particles. Need and dependence are firmly rooted in the depths of our being and that of everything on earth and in heaven. Our existence is not eternal and has not emerged from within our own essence; we were not, and then we were clothed in the garb of existence and came into being. In order to come into being, creatures such as us must beseechingly reach out to the bestower of existence.

But He Who is eternal and everlasting, Whose existence emerges from within His own essence, and Whose appearance is outside of time, manifestly has no need of a cause.

The meaning of a cause in philosophy is that which brings forth an effect from non-existence into existence and cloths it in the garb of existence. This creativity cannot be posited for material causes, and the only role of matter is to abandon one form in order to become receptive to another. It is true that every material being acquires each instant a new and different character as a result of internal development. However, the innate motion of the world and the processes of generation and corruption proclaim a lasting need for a hand to that Who creates the motion, a hand that both nurtures the swift caravan of being and impels it forward.

Lesson Seven : The Finiteness of the Chain of Causality

The materialists may insist obstinately on denying the truth and put forward another specious argument. They may say, "We do not cut off the chain of causality but, on the contrary, perpetuate it indefinitely; we defend the principle of the infinite nature of the causative link." In that case, they should be answered as follows: To analyze the world of creation in this manner rests on the supposition of a chain of causes and effects and the infinite unfolding of a succession of causes. However, since each cause is also an effect, it lacks being in its own essence; it is unable to partake of existence apart from the cause superior and precedent to it.

So how did each part of the chain, which is dominated by neediness from one end to another, emerge from non-being? The existence of each part of the chain manifests inadequacy, impotence, and origination in time; whence did its existence arise? How can great and complex beings emerge from infinite joinings of nonbeing? Does life gush forth from the union of the numerous factors that bring about death?

However far this infinite chain is prolonged, it will still have the attributes of neediness, dependency, and origination in time. A chain from the very nature of which autonomy and freedom from need do not arise can never put on the garment of being until it connects with one who is in his essence absolutely free of need— with a being who possesses the attributes of divinity and who is only a cause and not an effect. Without the existence of such an unconditional being, the source of all causes and the foundation of all existence, the order of creation cannot be explained.

Suppose that at the war front, a column of soldiers intends to attack the enemy but none of them is ready to begin the battle by lunging into the heart of the enemy army. Whoever is given the order to do so replies: "I will not attack until so-and-so beings to fight." Every single soldier repeats the same thing; there is no one unconditionally ready to begin the attack.

Under such conditions will the attack ever take place? Of course not, because everyone's fighting is conditional on that of someone else. It is obvious that a whole series of conditional attacks will not take place without the fulfillment of the condition, something impossible under the circumstances, and, as a result, the attack will not take place.

If we continue the chain of cause and effect indefinitely, the existence of each link in the chain will be conditional on that of the preceding link, which, in turn, will be conditional on the existence of the link preceding it. It is as if each link in the chain of causality were to proclaim loudly from the depths of its being: "I shall not don the garment of existence until that other one has set foot on the plain of being." Each link depends on a condition that has not been fulfilled, and each one is, therefore, barred from enjoying the blessing of existence.

Since we see the whole of the universe to be surging with different forms of being, there must exist in the world a cause that is not an effect, a condition that is not subject to a condition; otherwise the surface of the world would not be this thickly covered with phenomena.

That primary cause is one who, in his essence, is free of all need, who can dispense with all the different aspects of existence, and who is able to bring forth the most wondrous phenomena and the most original manifestations. He is a creator who plans all of this and then puts it into effect, who joins all of creation to a temporal mechanism, who constantly scatters the jewel of existence over the world, and who impels the great panorama of creation forward to fulfil the purposes of the order of being.

By making the world non-created and eternal, the materialists try to disprove the world's lasting need for a creator and thereby to bestow independent existence on the world. Their method, however, does not yield satisfactory results.

The materialist imagine that the world needs a creator only at the initial moment of creation; once the need is met, God and the world are independent of each other and have no links with each other. As a consequence of this belief, the materialist proceed to deny even that initial moment of need, and by rejecting the idea of a beginning for creation, they imagine they have solved the problem of God and creation and liberated the world of need for a creator.

This is because they imagine the need of the world to be temporary and passing, whereas the need is inherent in the essence of the world—the world is nothing but motion, a limited and dependent form of motion.

Each moment is, in fact, a beginning of creation; every instant, each atom in the world is engaged in origination. It follows that the whole of which the atoms area part has similarly originated in time; it does not have an ipseity independent of that of the atoms composing it.

So the world still has the same need for a creator that it had at the moment when creation began. Even supposing the world to be eternal, it would still not enjoy autonomy of existence.

The Answer of Science to the Thesis of the Eternity of the World

Just as man gradually loses his faculties with the passage of time so that one day the lamp of his life is extinguished, so, too, the universe is constantly advancing toward collapse and dissolution. For the energies existing in the world are gradually becoming dulled; atoms become energy, and active energy becomes inactive and motionless. Once the atoms are uniformly and equally divided, nothing remains but absolute silence and immobility. It is, therefore, impossible to regard matter as the eternal essence or substance of being, and there is no choice but to regard the world as created.

The second principle of thermodynamics, entropy or the decline of thermal energy, teaches us that although we cannot fix a date for the appearance of the world, the world certainly did have a beginning. The heat in the world is gradually decreasing and falling, like a piece of molten iron that gradually diffuses its heat in the air until finally the heat of the iron will be identical with that of the objects and the air surrounding it.

If there were no beginning or point of departure for the world, all the existing atoms would have dissolved and been transformed into energy an infinite number of years ago. In the course of a very long past, the heat of the world would have come to an end, for matter, in the course of its successive and continuous transformation, is transformed into perishable energies. It is not possible for all the energy dispersed to be transformed anew into matter and mass comfortable to the world of being.

In accordance with the principle just mentioned, once usable energy is exhausted, chemical action and reaction can no longer take place. But given that chemical action and reaction do take place that life is possible on the earth, and that a huge body like the sun is divisible each day and night into three hundred thousand million tons, it is clear that the world has originated in time.

The death of planets and stars, the disappearance of suns, is a proof of death and mutation in the existing order; they show that the world is advancing towards non-being and an inevitable conclusion.

We see, then, that the natural sciences have expelled matter from the stronghold of eternity. Science not only proves the createdness of the world but also bears witness that the world came into existence at a given time.

The world at the time of its birth stood in need of a preternatural force, for at the beginning, all things were formless and undifferentiated. It was necessary for some primordial spark of motion and life to alight on the world of nature. How could an environment devoid of all active energy, characterized by absolute silence and formlessness, serve as the origin of motion and life?

Mechanics tells us that a motionless body is always motionless unless it becomes subject to a force external to itself. This law represents an inviolable principle in our material world, and we cannot, therefore, believe in a theory of probability or accident. Not a single motionless body has entered in motion up to now without being subject to an external force. So, based on this mechanical principle, a force must exist which being other than the world of matter, creates that world and imparts it with energy so that it takes shapes, differentiates itself, and acquires various aspects.

Frank Allen, an outstanding scientific personality, proposes the following interesting argument in favor of the creation of the world by God: "Many people have tried to demonstrate that the material world does not need a creator. What is above all doubt is that the world does exist, and four explanations can be proposed for its origin.

"The first is that despite what we have just said, we regard the world as a mere dream and illusion. The second is that it has emerged from non-being entirely of itself. The third is that the world did not have a beginning and that it has existed eternally. The fourth is that the world has been created.

"The first hypothesis depends on our accepting that there is, in reality, no problem to be solved apart from the metaphysical problem of man's awareness of self, which can also be dismissed as a dream, a fantasy, an illusion. It is possible that someone might say that imaginary railroad trains, full of imaginary passengers, are crossing non-existent rivers over immaterial bridges.

"The second hypothesis, that the world of matter and energy came into being entirely of itself, is as meaningless and absurd as the first; it is not even worth considering in discussing.

"The third hypothesis, that the world has always existed, has one element in common with the concept of creation, for either lifeless matter and the energy intermingled with it or a creator have always existed. Neither attribution of eternity presents any particular problem in itself. However, thermodynamics has proven that the world is advancing toward a state in which the heat of all bodies will be at a similarly low degree and usable energy will no longer be available. Life will then become impossible.

"If the world had no beginning and existed from all eternity, such a state of death and lifelessness would already have occurred. The brilliant warm sun, the stars and the earth full of life bear faithful witness to the world having originated in time; a particular moment in time marked the beginning of creation. The world, then, cannot be other than created; it must have been a supreme, primordial cause, an eternal, omniscient and omnipotent creator that brought the world into being."


If man thinks deeply a little and reflects on reality with broadness of vision, he will understand that faced with the vast geographic dimensions of existence and the need in some way to comprehend them, he can hardly regard his own capacity as adequate to the task. The knowledge of the system of creation accumulated by man through his untiring efforts is next to nothing. Although science has taken great steps forward, there is an utter disparity between man, what man has learned, and what he still does not know.

As far as those periods of the past are concerned that are shrouded in total darkness, for all we know, thousands or even millions of human species superior to the present one may have existed. Such species may yet come into being in the future.

What is called science by the science-worshippers of the present age and regarded by them as equivalent to the sum total of reality, is simply a collection of laws applicable to a single dimension of the world. The result of all human effort and experimentation is a body of knowledge concerning a minute bright dot comparable to the dim light of a candle-surrounded by a dark night enveloping a huge desert of indefinite extent.

If we turn back millions of years, the dust of obscurity will cover our path as one emphatic indication of man's weakness and ignorance when confronted with the grandeur and vastness of nature.

It may be that the period in which man has existed is nothing more than an instant in the life of the world; it is certain that there was once a dark ocean of non-being in which there was no trace of man. In short, we know very little of the beginning of our journey and nothing of its future.

At the same time, it is impossible to believe that the conditions necessary for life exist exclusively on this tiny planet. Many scientists today regard the sphere of life as extremely vast and broad; they present countless millions of planets to our gaze and we look upon them by various means. But what we are thus enabled to see is nothing more than the field of visionof an ant when compared with the vastness of the universe.

Describing an imaginary purney to the world of infinity, Camille Flammarion, the famous scientist, says the following in his book on astronomy: "We continue to advance for a thousand years, for ten thousand years, for a hundred thousand years, at the same speed, steadily, without slowing down our vehicle, constantly moving forward along a straight line. We advance at a speed of three hundred thousand kilometers a second. Do we imagine that after travelling at that speed for a million years we will have reached the limits of the visible world?

"No, there are further dark, vast spaces that must be traversed, and there, too, new stars are visible at the limit of the heavens. We advance toward them, but will we ever reach them?

"More millions of years; more fresh discoveries; more splendor and grandeur; more new worlds and universes; more new beings and entities-will they never end? The horizon never closes; the heavens never bar our path; continual space, continual void. Where are we? What is the path we have followed? We are still in the middle of a dot-the center of the circle is everywhere, its circumference nowhere to be seen.

"Such is the infinite world that lies open before us, and the study of which has barely begun. We have seen nothing, and we tum back in fear, collapsing in exhaustion from this fruitless joumey. But where are we to fall? We can fall for an eternity into unending whirlpools, the bottom of which we never reach, just as we cannot reach their summit.

North becomes south; there is neither East nor West, neither up nor down, neither left nor right. In whatever direction we look, we see infinity, and within this endless expanse, our world is nothing more than a small island in a great archipelago spread out across an unending ocean. The entire life of humanity, for all the pride man takes in his political and religious history, or even the whole life of our planet with all of its splendor, is like the dream of a fleeting moment.

"If it were desired to write out again all the works of research penned by millions of scholars in millions of books, the ink required for the task would not exceed the capacity of a small tanker. But to describe and arrange in orderly fashion the forms of all existent things upon earth and in the heavens, in invisible past ages and in the infinite future-to write down, in short, all the mysteries of creation-might require more ink than the oceans contain water."ls

As Professor Ravaillet says: "In order to have a complete conception of the world, it is enough to know that the number of galaxies in the infinite expanse of the universe is greater than that of all the grains of sand on all the shores in the world."

Such considerations concerning what we know and what we do not know make it possible for us to escape imprisonment in the cocoon of our narrow life; to become humbly aware of how small we are; to go beyond this limited life of ours, to the degree that we are able; and to contemplate reality with greater care and profundity;

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