THE STORY OF IMAM ABU HANIFAH AND THE ATHEIST

THE STORY OF IMAM ABU HANIFAH AND THE ATHEIST

Long ago in the city of Baghdad, there was a Muslim empire. On one side of the River Tigris were the royal palaces and on the other side was the city. The Muslims were gathered in the Royal Palace when an atheist approached them. He said to them, ‘I don’t believe in God, there cannot be a God, you cannot hear Him or see Him, you’re wasting your time! Bring me your best debater and I will debate this issue with him.’

The best debater at the time was Imam Abu Hanifah Rahimullah. A messenger from amongst the Muslims was sent over the River Tigris to the city, where Abu Hanifah Rahimullah was, in order to tell him about the atheist who was awaiting him. On crossing the River Tigris, the messenger conveyed the message to Abu Hanifah Rahimullah saying, ‘Oh Abu Hanifah, an atheist is waiting for you, to debate you, please come!’ Abu Hanifah Rahimullah told the messenger that he would be on his way.

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The messenger went over the River Tigris once again and to the Royal Palaces, where everyone including the atheist awaited the arrival of Abu Hanifah Rahimullah. It was sunset at the time and one hour had passed, but Abu Hanifah Rahimullah still hadn’t arrived. Another hour had passed, but still, there was no sign of him.

The Muslims started to become tense and worried about his late arrival. They did not want the atheist to think that they were too scared to debate him, yet they did not want to take up the challenge themselves as Abu Hanifah Rahimullah was the best of Debaters from among the Muslims. Another hour passed, and suddenly the atheist started laughing and said, ‘ Your best debater is too scared! He knows he’s wrong, he is too frightened to come and debate with me. I guarantee he will not turn up today.’

The Muslims increased in apprehension and eventually it had passed midnight, and the atheist had a smile on his face. The clock ticked on, and finally, Abu Hanifah Rahimullah had arrived. The Muslims inquired about his lateness and remarked, ‘Oh Abu Hanifah, a messenger sent for you hours ago, and you arrive now, explain your lateness to us.’

Abu Hanifah Rahimullah apologises for his lateness and begins to explain, while the atheist listens to his story.

‘Once the messenger delivered the message to me, I began to make my way to the River Tigris, and on reaching the river bank I realised there was no boat, in order to cross the river. It was getting dark, and I looked around, there was no boat anywhere nor was there a navigator or a sailor in order for me to cross the river to get to the Royal Palaces. I continued to look around for a boat, as I did not want the atheist to think I was running away and did not want to debate with him.

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I was standing on the river bank looking for a navigator or a boat when something caught my attention in the middle of the river. I looked forward, and to my amazement, I saw planks of wood rising to the surface from the sea bed. I was shocked, amazed, I couldn’t believe what I saw seeing. Ready-made planks of wood were rising up to the surface and joining together. They were all the same width and length, I was astounded at what I saw.

I continued to look into the middle of the river, and then I saw nails coming up from the seafloor. They positioned themselves onto the boat and held the planks together, without them being banged. I stood in amazement and thought to myself, ‘Oh Allah, how can this happen, planks of wood rising to the surface by itself, and then nails positioning themselves onto the boat without being banged?’ I could not understand what was happening before my eyes.’

The atheist meanwhile was listening with a smile on his face. Abu Hanifah Rahimullah continued, ‘I was still standing on the river bank watching these planks of wood join together with nails. I could see water seeping through the gaps in the wood, and suddenly I saw a sealant appear from the river and it began sealing the gaps without someone having poured it, again I thought, ‘Ya Allah, how is this possible, how can sealant appear and seal the gaps without someone having poured it, and nails appear without someone having banged them.’ I looked closer and I could see a boat forming before my eyes, I stood in amazement and was filled with shock. All of a sudden a sail appeared and I thought to myself, ‘How is this happening, a boat has appeared before my eyes by itself, planks of wood, nails, sealant and now a sail, but how can I use this boat in order to cross the river to the Royal Palaces?’ I stood staring in wonderment and suddenly the boat began to move. It came towards me against the current.

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It stood floating beside me while I was on the riverbank as if telling me to embark onto it. I went on the boat and yet again it began to move. There was no navigator or sailor on the boat, and the boat began to travel towards the direction of the royal palaces, without anyone having programmed it as to where to go. I could not understand what was happening, and how this boat had formed and was taking me to my destination against the flow of water. The boat eventually reached the other side of the River Tigris and I disembarked. I turned around and the boat had disappeared, and that is why I am late.’

At this moment, the atheist burst out laughing and remarked, ‘Oh Abu Hanifah, I heard that you were the best debater from among the Muslims, I heard that you were the wisest, the most knowledgeable from among your people. From seeing you today, I can say that you show none of these qualities. You speak of a boat appearing from nowhere, without someone having built it. Nails positioning themselves without someone having banged them, sealant being poured without someone having poured it, and the boat taking you to your destination without a navigator against the tide, your taking childish, your talking rediculous, I swear I do not believe a word of it!’

Abu Hanifah Rahimullah turned to the atheist and replied, ‘You don’t believe a word of it? You don’t believe that nails can appear by themselves? You don’t believe sealant can be poured by itself? You don’t believe that a boat can move without a navigator, hence you don’t believe that a boat can appear without a boat maker?’

The atheist remarked defiantly, ‘Yes I don’t believe a word of it!’

Abu Hanifah Rahimullah replied, ‘If you cannot believe that a boat came into being without a boat maker, then this is only a boat, how can you believe that the whole world, the universe, the stars, the oceans, and the planets came into being without a creator?

The atheist astonished at his reply got up and fled. Transcribed from a lecture delivered by Shaykh Ahmad Ali.

That’s is how a point shall be made, and arguments can be won. Such a beautiful story.

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Author: Muhamad Aarif

A notorious book addict by night and an oil and gas executive by day. As Mark Twain said, "The man who doesn't read good books has no advantage over the man who can't read them." So, read, read, and read some more.

10 thoughts

  1. what a long and drawn out repetition on the argument from design. Now, Muhamad, please do show that it is your god that is the creator and show that the laws of physics cannot simply replace your god as the eternal force you want to invoke by special pleading.

    1. Hi, Thanks for your question,I have compiled an answer for that based on an answer from Dr. Zakir Naik, you can read it here “How to Prove Allah (God) Exist?”
      .
      https://aarifbillah.com/2018/12/26/how-to-prove-allah-god-exist/
      .
      And if it still is not enough, I pray for your guidance, as well as for my own. Since, everyone can argue on anything even if they are plainly ‘wrong’. Take the climate change and global warming issues for example.
      .
      And as a parting remark, I leave you with a quote from the quran from Surah Al-Kafirun (The Disbelivers)
      Which is translated as follow
      “Say, “O disbelievers, I do not worship what you worship.Nor are you worshippers of what I worship.Nor will I be a worshipper of what you worship. Nor will you be worshippers of what I worship. For you is your religion, and for me is my religion.”
      In this case, your religion is atheism.
      Thank you.

      1. Thank you for your response. In that Dr. Naik offers the same arguments that most, if not all religions offer, how can you show your god exists and can you explain why you don’t believe the same arguments from another religion?
        You make claims that the Qu’ran mentions scientific facts that humans did not know but you give none of these. What are they? Everything is not made of water nor does modern science make this claim. Why do you choose to make false claims, Muhamed? As you mention there are elements and they are part of “everything”, and they do not include water in their makeup. It seems that ignorance regarding science, whether it be willful or not, afflicts Muslims as it does Christians, etc. I also see you use the same excuse that Christians do, when caught in a false claim about their bible revealing facts about the world. When it fails, you retreat to claiming that the Qu’ran is not about science. Which is it for it cannot be both?
        The Qu’ran claims that the moon was split. There is no evidence of this at all. It claims that stars are close by. The only one that is even possibly considered “close” is our sun. The Qu’ran claims htat all life is in pairs, and that is false. There is plenty of asexual life, and it is no surprise that the Qu’ran doesnt know what humans couldn’t see at the time. We also have the issue that praying facing Mecca only makes sense if the earth is flat, as the Quran, and the bible, and the hadiths indicate, for the world could only be put in darkness if someone thought that the earth was flat and the sun orbited it.
        What I will guess is that you will claim such verses are either literal, and then you have to explain why there is no evidence and the universe does not reflect what the Qu’ran says, or you will claim that they are metaphor, which then brings up: how do you decide what is literal and what is metaphor, a problem Christians have. Each invents a magic decoder ring to tell them what they want to hear, nothing more.
        I thank you for your prayers but consider this: what happens when your prayers fail just like the prayers of every other theist? I’ve had many Muslims and Christians say that they are praying for me and nothing happens. Are they and you not doing something right? Does Allah accept with joy an honest atheist? Does Allah ignore your prayers? Or is it that Allah doesn’t exist?
        I have no religion. I have no believe in a god or gods which is what religion is defined as. It seems that many theists find it necessary to claim that everyone has a religion in order to feed a belief that everyone “really” agrees with them, for they are afraid of someone ignoring their claims of knowledge and importance. As for climate change, the evidence supports it. It is unfortunate that someone like you accepts science when it makes him comfortable, but finds he must lie about it when it indicates his religion is based on false claims. As much as you might want to make believe I am going to hell, there’s no evidence for that either.

      2. Most of your questions have been answered by Islamic scholars.. Will try tp compiled it later.. Or you can googled them.
        .
        But your question does remind me of some question asked by an atheist to Sheikh Ahmed Deedat.

      3. I hope you will consider answering my questions yourself, Muhamed. I have read the Quran and various Muslim apologists. it is not so surprising that they use the same claims as Christian apologists. In that you do not think each other are telling the truth, why do you think I should believe you?

      4. Sure.. I will consider your questions.. Btw.. It’s does not matter if you were to believe it or not to me because it doesn’t make better nor worse but it should matter for you.. It is not up to us Muslim to give others guidance.. Guidance is only from God and our job is only to share.

      5. It’s very common for theists to suddenly decide to claim that it is not up to them when they make claims that they pray. It seems that you known you need an excuse when your god fails to do anything.

      6. I find it funny too. So, the sheikh replied “Not worse than when you die and discover the hereafter is the truth”. That is no more than a threat based on an assumption and Pascal’s Wager ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pascal%27s_Wager ) which seems to have been addressed by Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq and others in the Islamic world, the idea that it is best to believe because you’ll suffer if you do not. However, this wager is built on a flaw, the assumption that you have picked the right god. In that no theist can show this to be the case, the wager fails since there could be a god that you are making angry because you are not worshipping it.
        There is also the problem of the wasted time and resources if you don’t have the right god or if there is no god/s. Pascal also advocates to feign belief “just in case”. That, to me, would indicate a particularly stupid god who would accept that.
        In closing, Pascal’s wager depends on ignorance and fear. If I do not subscribe to either, it is a worthless exercise. I can happily say I have no idea what might happen after I die. However, I still wouldn’t worship a thing that is so petty and vicious as the gods presented in Christianity, Judaism and Islam, especially not because they threatened me. Pascal responded to criticisms of his wager by saying that non-believers weren’t looking hard enough at Christianity to realize it is the only true religion. I can see your religious scholars making the same, baseless, claim about Islam.

      7. Muhamad, I’ll be back to chat in a day or two. I’m currently mourning my oldest kitty who I had to have euthanized. That is one good thing about Muhamad your prophet, according to some of the myths I’ve read, he liked cats. While you are waiting, perhaps you would watch this video and tell me if you have converted to Christianity from it. It is from one of the more curious Christian apologists, Ray Comfort: https://youtu.be/BuZoWLInLBs

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