I was listening to a speaker who claims: “Truth is a subjective thing, I have never personally believed that the Shi’a are the truth. The truth is a subjective thing that everyone arrives at in their own capacity as individuals, communities or a humanity in large. The truth is available for Shi’a, Sunni, Hindu as one body…”.
He also argued that “the Qur’an only makes a distinction between ‘friends of God’ and ‘enemy of God’, it does not care if you are a Muslim, Christian, Jew or Sabian. Whenever these verses of the Qur’an are mentioned, it does not mention Prophet Muhammad, or Prophet Musa, or Prophet Isa, it only mentions Allah, the Hereafter, and the righteous good deeds.”
Dear Sheikh! I am a convert and I had to put up with a lot from my family for being a Shi’a Muslim. I wonder if it was all necessary. Please give me a complete answer as the above argument has confused many of us.
Thank you for your queries. It is always healthy and safe to cross examine the information we receive to scrutinize their validity, especially when they are related to our faith.
The above argument stems from a very old philosophical argument about the reality of ‘truth’ and I will try to explain it in simple language.
The dogma of subjective or relative truth as opposed to objective or absolute truth is full of contradictions, and hence is nothing more than a fallacious argument as I will explain:
1. If truth is essentially subjective and relative then this proposition ‘truth is a subjective thing’ is not necessarily true, which means it may be false. Thus, it is self-defeating.
2. We ask those who claim “truth is a subjective thing that everyone arrives at in their own capacity as individuals..”, is this an absolute statement, or it may or may not be true? If it is an absolute statement then there is an absolute truth which is against your claim. But if your statement is also relatively true then you may well be telling me a lie!
3. How did you come to the conclusion that truth is subjective and relative? If all propositions are subjective, then yours must be included too! Thus, you are unconsciously acknowledging the absolute truth.
4. Logically the best a holder of ‘subjective truth’ may claim is to say ‘I am agnostic’ (I have no knowledge of the truth). The Holy Qur’an refers such ignorant people to ‘those who know’: “Ask those who know if you do not know.” (Surah 16, Ayah 43).
5. If ‘truth is available for all’, then both atheists and theists must be true. This claim contradicts the most basic human foundation of knowledge, i.e. the Law of Non-contradiction, which simply means ‘A is not non-A. Here, an atheist believes God does not exist, whereas a theist believes God does exist. To claim that truth is available to both of them contradicts the Law of Non-contradiction.
6. Similarly if ‘truth is available for all’, then both Christians who believe Jesus is Son of God, and Muslims who believe Jesus is not son of God must be true. Likewise, Christians who believe Jesus was crucified, and Muslims who believe he was not crucified must be both true! And the list goes on. This is a clear violation of the Law of Non-contradiction.
7. If ‘truth is available to all’, then all the criminals such as ISIS must be true too. They have reached the truth in their own capacity!! Similarly, it should have been available to both the holy Prophet of Islam (s), and the pagans of Quraysh, both Imam Ali (a.s.) and his opponents must have arrived to it, both Imam Husain (a.s.) and the perpetrators of Karbala must have arrived at truth in their own capacities too!
8. If ‘truth is available to all’ then why did God bother to dispatch all the Prophets and Messengers, and why did He create hell and heaven and the Day of Judgment in the first place?!
9. Finally, Avicenna proposed a great test to examine the validity of ‘subjective truth’. Send him on the top of a high cliff, and if he believes he can fly he should be able to fly, since truth is subject to his belief! But if he falls instead of flying then the argument is over!
10. As for the claim that ‘the Qur’an only makes a distinction between friends of God and His enemies’, is there any application or real examples for these titles?! The Almighty God introduces Himself as ‘The Only Truth’: “That is because Allah is the Only Truth, and what they (polytheists) invoke besides Him, is falsehood.” (Surah 22, Ayah 62). Out testimony of Faith first denounces any deity and then proclaims Allah as the one and only deity worthy of worship: “La Elaha Ellallah”. According to ‘subjective truth’ the divine division of ‘truth and falsehood’ must be absurd!
11. If ‘God does not care if you are a Muslim, Christian, Jew or Sabian’, then why did He reveal: “Surely, they have disbelieved who say: God is the Messiah, son of Mary… Surely disbelievers are those who said: God is the third of the three…” (Surah 5, Ayah 72, 73).
12. If ‘God does not care if you are a Muslim, Christian…” then why did He order his noble Messenger to take his noblest family members to attend the event of al-Mubahalah (two parties standing off and invoking God’s curse upon the false party)?! (Surah 3, Ayah 61). Couldn’t He just reveal to His Messenger: “I don’t care how you believe in Me, or perhaps don’t believe in Me. I love you all”?!
13. Is it not bizarre to claim that God cares “only about belief in Allah, the Hereafter, and righteous good deeds, and belief in the Prophets, and in particular the Seal of the Prophets is unnecessary”! This is not less than denying the Message and the Messenger! Unless you believe in the Prophet of Islam (s), the Holy Qur’an will not be a divine revelation for you. Now I know why it is recommended to recite the following Ayah after every prayer: “The Messenger (Muhammad) believes in what has been sent down to him from his Lord, and (so do) the believers. Each one believes in Allah, His Angels, His Books, and His Messengers, (they say): We make no distinction between one another of His Messengers – and they say: We hear and we obey. We seek Your forgiveness, our Lord and to You is the return of all.” (Surah 2, Ayah 285).
14. As for his word: “, I have never personally believed that the Shi’a are the truth.” Well, please compare this with what the holy Prophet (s) has said to Imam Ali (a.s.): “You are with the Truth, and the Truth is with you.” (Ibn Asaker, vol. 20 p. 361). Imam Hadi (a.s.) also says in his visitation for Imam Ali (a.s.): “O Commander of the Faithful! I bear witness that whoever doubts you has never believed in the Trusted Messenger (i.e. Muhammad), and whoever leaves you to choose another (as his leader) has indeed diverted the true religion that the Lord of the worlds has chosen for us.” (al-Mazar, p.66).
15. And finally, if:
· The Prophets (s) were pluralists then none of them would have suffered or been tortured to death. They would have coexisted happily with all the pagans of their times!
· The holy Prophet of Islam (s) was a pluralist, then he would not have opposed the pagans and Hamza, the noble uncle of the Prophet (s) and many other Muslims, would have not been killed.
· The holy Prophet (s) was a pluralist then he would not have sent letters of invitation to the then world leaders, and Ja’far – ‘the owner of Two Wings’ – would have not been killed by the Romans…
· Imam Sadiq (a.s.) was a pluralist he would not have opposed Abu-Hanifa for applying analogy in the matter of jurisprudence.
· Imam Ridha (a.s.) was a pluralist he would have not debated the leaders of all religions in the court of Ma’moon, and the list goes on!
May the Almighty Allah keep us all on the Right Path, the path of those whom He has blessed, not those who earned the divine chastisement nor of those who went astray. “O Lord! We believe in what You have revealed and we follow the Messenger (Muhammad), so write us down with those who bear witness. Our Lord! Make not our hearts to deviate after You have guided us aright.
Answered by: Sheikh Mansour Leghaei