How to acquire the Knowledge of God?

Understanding Islam – Abul Al\’a Maududi


Now the question arises: How to acquire the knowledge and belief in God, His attributes, His Law, and the Day of Judgment?  We have already referred to countless manifestations of God around us and in our own selves, which bear witness to the fact that there is one and only one Creator and Governor of this universe and it is He Who controls and directs it. These witnesses reflect the divine attributes of the Creator: His great wisdom, His all-embracing knowledge, His omnipotence, His mercy, His all-sustaining power, His force major-in short, His attributes can be traced everywhere in His work. But man’s intellect and his capacity to attain knowledge have erred in observing and understanding them. These are all manifest and clear and our eyes are open to read what is writ large on the creation. But here men have erred. Some have declared that there are two gods, others began to profess belief in trinity, and still others succumbed to polytheism.

Some began nature-worship and others divided into multifarious deities: gods of rain, air, fairness, death, etc. As such, although the manifestations of God were quite clear, human reason has faltered on various counts and failed to see the reality in its true perspective. It met deception after deception and resulted in nothing but confusion of thought. We hardly need to dilate here on these errors of human judgment.  Similarly, with regard to life after death men have put forward many erroneous notions; for instance, that man is reduced to dust after death and will not rise to life again; or that man is subject to a process of continuous regeneration in this very world and is punished or rewarded in the oncoming cycles of life.  Even greater difficulty arises when we come to the question of the code of life.

To formulate a complete and balanced code of life that should conform to God’s pleasure merely with the help of human reason, is an extremely difficult task. If a man is equipped with the highest faculties of reason and intellect and he possesses matchless wisdom and experience of many years of deliberation, even then the chances of his formulating right views on life and existence are not very promising. And even if, after a lifelong deliberation, he succeeds in that he will still lack in the confidence that he has really discovered the truth and adopted the right path.  Although the fullest and fairest test of man’s wisdom, reason, and knowledge might have been to leave him to his own resources without any external guidance so that he those who, through their own sagacious siftings and strivings, might have reached truth and righteousness would have won success and salvation, while those not reaching them would have failed. God, how- ever, spared His human creatures such a hard test.

Through His grace and benevolence, He raised for mankind men from among themselves to whom He imparted the true knowledge of His attributes, revealed to them His Law and the Right Code of Living, gave them the knowledge of the meaning and purpose of life and of the life after death and thus showed them the way by pursuing which man can achieve success and eternal bliss. These chosen man are the Messengers of God-His prophets. God has communicated knowledge and wisdom to them by means of wahy (revelation), and the book containing the Divine communications is called the Book of God, or the word of God. Now the test of man’s Wisdom and intellect lies in this: does he recognize God\’s Messenger after thoroughly observing his pure and pious life and carefully studying his noble and flawless teachings? The man who possesses right wisdom and sound common sense would verify truth and accept the instructions given by the Messenger of truth. If he denies the Messenger of God and his teachings, his denial would signify that he was devoid of the capacity to find out truth and righteousness. On account of this denial, he would fail in his test. Such a man will never be able to discover the truth about God and His Law and the life after death. 


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