There are a couple of variants attributed to Abu Hanifa:
A messenger invited Abu Hanifa to a debate with an atheist who was awaiting him. Everyone including the atheist awaited his arrival. An hour had passed, but Abu Hanifa hadn't arrived. Another hour passed and still no sign of him.
Finally Abu Hanifa arrived. He apologised for his lateness and began to explain, 'I began to make my way to the River Tigris and on reaching the river bank I realised there was no boat to cross the river. 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. 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. I continued to look into the middle of the river and then I saw nails rise from the sea bed. They positioned themselves to hold the planks together.'
The atheist was listening with a smile. Abu Hanifa continued, 'I could see a boat forming before my eyes, I stood in amazement. Suddenly the boat began to move. It came towards me against the current. It stood floating beside me while I was on the river bank, 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. 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 Hanifa, you speak of a boat appearing from nowhere, without someone having built it. I swear I do not believe a word of it!'
Abu Hanifa turned to the atheist and replied, 'You don't believe a word of it? If you cannot believe that a boat came into being without a boat maker, how can you believe that the whole world, the universe, the stars, the oceans and the planets came into being without a creator?'
The second argument is:
"Is there any proof that God exists?" an atheist asked Abu Hanifa who replied, "People tell me there is a big ship, it contains different goods on board. There is no one to steer it, no one maintaining it. Yet, this ship keeps going back and forth; it even traverses big waves on the oceans; it stops at the locations that it is supposed to stop at; it continues in the direction that it is supposed to head. This ship has no captain and no one planning its trips."
The atheist interrupted and exclaimed, "What kind of strange and silly thought is this? How can any intelligent person think that some thing like this can occur?"
Abu Hanifa said, "I feel sorry for your state! You cannot imagine one ship running without some one looking after its affairs. Yet you think that for this whole world, which runs exactly and precisely, there is no one who looks after it and no one owns it."
Great answers start with great insights. Content becomes intriguing when it is voted up or down - ensuring the best answers are always at the top.
Questions are answered by people with a deep interest in the subject. People from around the world review questions, post answers and add comments.
Be part of and influence the most important global discussion that is defining our generation and generations to come