"The greatest lie the Devil ever told was convincing humanity that he didn't exist."

It was the summer of 2004. I had lost my Grandfather that year and finally wrapped up my life in Toronto to move on to greener pastures in life in London as a law student. I was reading the Torah for a research paper I had due while my stopover at Doha airport, when an aged East Asian gentleman caught me reading the Holy Book. I definitely didn’t look Jewish so he was quite intrigued by my interest in reading the scripture. The gentleman, quite impressively, was the owner of a boutique investment bank that was listed on the Hong Kong stock exchange.  In no time we got into a lengthy conversation about our respective religious beliefs and why there was so much suffering in the world - this is now a cliché used by atheists and agnostics to falsify the very existence of God. While my inherent Islamism went at great lengths to justify God alongside an insinuation of “Socratic” discussion on how ‘suffering’ defines ‘peace’ as well as how ‘bad’ defines ‘good’; the gentleman provided me an alternative hypothesis. He suggested he believed in God, but he did not believe that God created the world or humanity – he believed the Devil did - perhaps because humanity appears to be created more in the reflection of the Devil than God.

So now when I contemplate back on the conversation I had with the gentleman, I wonder if God is actually the Devil in disguise and even if not, then God did create the Devil knowingly. Well, to the aforementioned thought any devoted believer would say Blasphemy! This is precisely what the Devil does! He will try to convince you that he doesn’t exist, then try to convince you that God doesn’t exist and that your prayers are useless and n vain as He works very subtly. Perhaps religion was created as a counter mechanism for nihilistic thoughts. That is definitely one positive consequence of the medium of religion amongst others.

In the midst of the whole political episode that took place recently in the youth circle in UK and Pakistan and the outrageous political affairs of Pakistan in general, I think I can definitely draw an analogy.The Devil attempted to convince everyone he didn’t exist, pretended to be “God” and knowingly created another “devil” in the minds of individuals thus seeking refuge in the existence of another. I apologize my friends; I am too humble to consider this notion for others as our boundaries and intentions are always flawed as human beings. I often wonder why I am charitable at times. Am I sincerely interested in helping others, am I pleasing God for a desire of paradise and even when I give charity discreetly, a thought crosses my mind if I am actually keeping it reserved for people to think good of me. I often wonder if my atheist friends are more deserving of heaven when they do charitable deeds as they perhaps have no ulterior motivation behind it. It is the problem of finding an “absolute” reality that none of us can speak definitely on as we are always told that “one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter”. So, who is the Devil and who is the God?

I think the answer would depend on the perception of the “subject” and this reminds me of The Good Samaritan story. It is a tale suggesting that how you act is more important than what you believe. The most self-righteous individuals fail to act on their beliefs, but an individual who is despised, a Samaritan, acts more as a brother to a stranger than his own people. As I was discussing today with my colleague, I sometimes think that the people who constantly emphasize their beliefs to the world have the weakest faith in God of all or are intelligent enough to relegate them to be used as a political tool. They are perhaps the most susceptible of all to be bought-out based on material interests. Perhaps the western world is more Islamic than the self-proclaimed Islamic states.

I am quite inclined to think we might need to move towards a system of morality which is based on ‘absolute’ rather than ‘relative’ values. I think Socrates rightly pointed out that a justice system based on relative emotional values is a mere illusion and a vulgar conception that has no truth in it. It appears that indefinite markers of ethical absolution are somewhat necessary or we will have an existence of nothing substantively defined or attributed and essentially there would be no truth and no boundaries. It would encourage the philosophy of ‘nothingness’ that is the greatest example of a belief without sound application. But that is a contradiction to my very own compassionate being – I believe in human rights and all human rights are based on relative emotional values.

All in all, know that if someone comes to you claiming to be telling the “absolute” truth, be assured they are the Devil. And if I have convinced you, I have probably made you believe in the greatest lie.  

By Sana Hameed Baba