Hadith Halilaorthe Tradition Of The Myrobalan Fruit

Mufaddal bin 'Umar al-Jau`fi wrote a letter to Hazrat Imam Jafar al-Sadiq (A) that some people held the No Allah theory and contested among themselves with groundless arguments. He requested the Imam (A) to refute these atheists, as he (the Imam) had done on previous occasions. The Imam replied, In the name of the Most Merciful and the Most Compassionate Allah. May He the Almighty give us the good sense of ever remaining obedient to His will, drawing down upon us His pleasure and mercy.

Your letter with reference to those evils that have crept into our midst is in our hands You mention that these 'atheistical disputes' and controversies have become a menace to our religion (Islam), and you desire me to publish a book in condemnation and contradiction of them, as I have done (for antagonists and opponents of Allah) before. 

Let us offer our thanks to Allah-the Most High for all His blessings to us, and for His Hujjat (proof) incomparable, and the justice of trial with which he tests His favorite as well as His ordinary slaves. One of the greatest and most important favors from Him is the establishment of convincing proof-deep in the innermost heart of each creature that 'He is'.

Thus He has secured the vow of His ma'arefat (knowledge of His being) from all His creatures, and has sent (through His prophet) His sacred book Quran, which contains efficacious remedies for all doubts and suspicions. Allah has done all this for man. He has neither left him nor any other thing dependent upon others save Him. He has directly proved Himself. 

He himself is indeed independent and the praised. By my life these men in their ignorance are losers, when they deny the existence of Allah in the face of all those perfect and clear proofs and signs which surround them. The sky, the earth and the wonderful things pertaining to both, evince beyond all doubts, the existence of some creator.

These men have opened for themselves a gate leading to a crime. They seek their relief in insatiable, incessant worldly pursuits. Their sensual desire has blighted the purity of their hearts. For their oppression and tyranny, Allah has abandoned them. Satan has assumed dominion over them. Thus Allah seals the hearts of the proud and the arrogant. 

It is a matter of great surprise that man seeing in himself perfect creation, can still so unreasonably refute the theory of a perfect Creator. The structure of the body, the perfection of its design and its connection with some spiritual thing called the soul, reveal or manifest its creator to be of extraordinary wisdom and intellect.

I vow by my life that these men have bestowed no thought upon the question, or else they must have observed this distinct and vivid perfection in creation, e.g. the design of the universe, and the knowledge that these things once were not in existence, should have called forth an unhesitating affirmation of a creator. There is not a single thing that does not show signs of Allah Who created it.

I write to you an account of the arguments I had with an atheist physician of India. He visited me frequently, always discussing his "No Allah" theory and placing forth all his arguments in support of it. Once while pounding halila (Myrobalan fruit), a new idea came to him. "This Universe", said he suddenly, has existed for eternity before, and will still exist for eternity.

One tree grows and another withers; one in born whilst the other dies; and the link that binds them together existed in the past, and will exist in the future. Your claim to the divine knowledge is a baseless one, founded on no such actual proof as to justify the existence of Allah. It can only be called a belief, a belief inherited from your forefathers and traditions. 

Proceeding with the same force, he went on to say: "The existence of various things of the Universe whether real or not could only be determined through the medium of the five senses. Eyes with which we see, ears by which we hear, nose by which we smell and hands and feet with which we touch and feel.

Continuing the chain of his arguments to the extent of his self-made principles, he said, "Now I have never known Allah through any of the above mentioned senses, and cannot therefore believe in Him. But I request that you will let me hear those arguments with which you convince others. When he reached thus far I said: "I prove His existence by the inherent instinct of His being, which each man, whether an affirmed atheist or not, has in him".

"How can you say so?" He asked. "The mind cannot know the existence of any thing through any medium but that of the five senses. Have you seen Allah, heard His voice, smelled Him, tasted Him with your tongue, or touched Him with your hands or feet? How could one realize Him?" "Your denial of Allah, then is, said I, "because, you have not felt Him with the senses given to us for knowing objects, I too have not felt Him with either of them. But my belief is as strong as your disbelief, both cannot be right; do you admit this?" 

"Most certainly" he replied. "Either you are mistaken or I am". "Very well", said I, "If you are right, there is no danger for me in threatening you with Allah's displeasure for your disbelief". "No", said he, "You shall be in no danger."

"If I am right", asked I, "Do you not think that you will suffer the punishment for your disbelief, and I shall receive a reward, for being away from your opinions?" "Quite possibly" he replied. 

"Will you tell me", I asked, "which of us is the wiser, granting the possibility of both the situations?" "Oh", He replied. "Your belief is a presumption, a groundless assertion, while mine is a truth, based upon common sense. I do not perceive Him by my senses, therefore He does not exist".

"When your senses", said I "could not perceive Allah, you disbelieved Him, While I, on the contrary, believed in Him, because my senses failed to discern Him. The very theory that made you disbelieve, compelled me to believe in Him". "How is it possible?" he asked.

"Because", I replied, "things are 'murakkab' (compound, made of parts). Every murakkab possesses shape and colour that attracts the senses. Therefore, that which is felt or known by the senses, having shape and colour, cannot be Allah. Your argument for disbelief is foolish, because Allah cannot be like any of the things perceived by the senses, nor can He be said to bear any resemblance to anything which has to undergo an ordeal of change and decay. For, everything is under the one and the same law-the law of transformation and decline. Allah, our creator cannot be perceivable by the five senses you mention; for, He is not a thing-which is murakkab or created. ……………If He was visible to the eye, and perceivable to the senses, He would have resembled the things that are visible and perceivable to the senses on account of their being murakkab and created, and in that case He would no longer have remained a creator.

"What nonsense you talk?" said he. "No, I cannot believe unless I perceive by any of these five senses". Since he so persistently adhered to this theory, the folly of which I strove to point out, I said, I charge you then for the very defect you accused me of. Your claim is without reason and proofs also. Your arguments are too on the same lines, as, you thought, were mine; and for which you had such an aversion".

How can I be held liable for the same defect as you?" he asked.

"You, in the beginning, replied I, "falsely reproached me with this that my claim to the knowledge of Allah was purely traditional and had no actual basis for the fact. That imputation is now applicable to you, because you persist in the theory, that a thing not known through the medium of the senses is not existent, though strong evidence proves it otherwise. You disregard the arguments, and all messages from Allah through the prophets and the favored ones of Allah tell me, 'have you visited every corner of this world?'"

"Of course not, he said. I went on. Have you ever ascended or visited this sky, which you behold with your eyes, or been in the depths of the earth? Have you traversed the world, dived in every sea, and moved through the atmosphere? To presumptuously deny the existence of an Omniscient, Omnipotent Creator, you must have been to all these places.

No, he said, "You know I have never. "Well", I said, How can you say that He is not in those places where neither you nor your senses have ever been? Perhaps, He may be living there. I cannot be certain" he said. Perhaps a person of extraordinary intelligence may reside in one of those places. As, I went on, "you have admitted the probability of a creator, you will, I hope, be convinced to admit the certainty. From flat denial you have come to doubt, from that perhaps to faith.

"This doubt, he said, "is the result of the question you put about the places that my senses have not seen, but I am at a loss to understand how a thing can be said to exist unless felt by them. "Well, I explain this, and bring you to a belief through the medium of this halila. 

Oh yes, he said. "Try. The halila will be very suitable for it is one of the fruits of medical science, in which I am well versed. I take the halila, I said, "because it is nearest to us. Had anything else been there instead, it could also have proved Allah's existence. "Everything murakkab is created. Creation shows a creator. That, which was not is, and that which is, is destroyed by Allah. Allah made it and destroyed it. Tell me do you see this halila? 

"I do, he said. Can you see, I asked, "what is in its interior?


"Then there must not be a stone in this one, I said, "for you do not see it with your eyes.

"How can I say that?"he replied; "but there may not be one.

"Nor, I persisted, "a kernel hidden under the shell nor color within?

"I know nothing, he replied, both may be absent, "I am sure, I said, "you will at once admit that it can be had in India, for all Indian physicians agree on this point. "They may be wrong in their opinion, he said, "I do not admit it.

All right, said I. "but you at least believe that this fruit grows in some part of the world. He said "This earth is like that and I have seen that place where it grows, I said, Will you believe by the presence of this halila that there are other halilas, which you do not see with your eyes ?I asked, No, he replied obstinately. "This may be the only one of its kind in the world, Seeing him thus willfully bent upon ignorance, I asked him, what he thought the halila to be? Whether it was a product of a tree or it had come into existence by itself?

I am not foolish to say that it has come into existence by itself. It is emphatically the product of a tree Then, you admit, said I, the existence of a tree which you have not seen Yes he said But add that the halila tree like all other things has self-existed for all eternity. Can you refute this belief of mine? Yes, I said, in connection with the halila, have you seen the tree from which this one came? Do you now it perfectly well? Yes, he answered, Did you see the halila before it came into existence?

No, how could? 

Then perhaps, said I it might have happened thus:

When you saw the tree first, it had no halilas. But next time you saw it, it had. Will you therefore believe that the halilas came into existence from the state of non-existence?"

Why not? I believe it, but I say, what went to make a halila was already in the tree, which in due course of time got united and formed a halila. Had you seen the seed from which the halila sprang up? I asked. Yes I had, he replied.

Does it sound perfectly consistent to you to say said I that the roots, branches, bark, leaves and all the fruits, which combined together, weigh many tons, were lying concealed in so small a seed? "No", said he. I cannot understand how all these things could be concealed in one seed. Will you admit that they could not be present in the seed, but came into existence afterwards? 

Yes, he said. "But I do not say that they we created by some one, and you cannot prove it to me. Why not? said I, if I show you a design or a painting you will have to believe that it was done by some one. Yes, he said. 

Does it not strike you, that this halila is made upon a fixed standard-special color, special size, special seed, special taste-some portion of its kernel is soft, while the rest hard-one portion coalescing into another has formed a compound-there is a layer over layer, body over body, and color over color? It has a hard material enveloped by a soft one. Its structure is composed of particles allied together. Its yellow color has a whitish tinge. It has a skin to preserve it from external influences. Roots to convey moisture. Leaves that preserve it from the sun lest it be burnt and scorched to ashes, or the cold, lest it be reduced to thinness and lose its vigor"? 

Would it not have been better, asked he, to cover the seed with leaves?

"Allah was the best judge, I replied, Had it been covered with leaves as you suggest, the air without, which gives it strength and vigor would not have reached it. It could not have been influenced by the cold which makes it robust. The sun would have had no power to ripen it. It would have gone rotten. These different influences proportionately divided, held to bring the fruit to perfection designed by the powerful wisdom of Allah- the Almighty.

"The seed in its rudimentary state, said I "was neither kernel nor shell. It had neither color nor taste. It was only water. "Yes", he said, this I know.

"If Allah, said I, "had not strengthened the drop of water, which was no bigger than a mustard seed, suggested its shape, proportionately divided its particles, how could that very small drop of water have reached its present state of development? How could it have assumed its present form, uncombined as it was with shell or particles? Presume some development. But it would be in size and bulk and should only have consisted in the increase of water. It could not have scientifically assumed its present shape- it would have had no definite shape.