5. The So-Called Pascal's Bet
Hadhrat Ameerul Mumeneen Ali bin Abi Talib said:
"The astrologer and the physician both said: 'The dead will never be resurrected.'
"I said: 'Keep your counsel. If your idea is correct I will come to no harm (by my belief in a Day of Judgment); but if my belief is correct, then you will be sure loser (by not believing in that Day)."
Allama Abu Hamid Al-Ghazali (died in 1111 A.D.) mentions in Mizanul-Aamal that: "Ali - God have grace on him - said to a man who contested with him on the question of the other world: If the truth is what you pretend (i.e., there is no life hereafter), then we shall all be saved; but if the truth is what I have said (i.e., there is a life hereafter) then you will be condemned and I shall be saved." That is the very sound, practical, down to earth reasoning in favour of believing in a Creator and a Day of Judgment.
Then Al-Ghazali explains that Ali did not propound this argument in order to cast a shadow of doubt on the reality of the life-hereafter; but it is merely an argument to convince those people who are incapable of knowing that by logical demonstration.
One thousand years after Ali bin Abi Talib (a.s.) came the famous mathematician Pascal (died 1662 A.D.); and his famous "Parido Pascal" (Pascal's Bet) by which he wished to prove the same thing to the same group of people. His argument can be briefly stated in this way:
"If you believe in the life-hereafter you will gain everything if it really exists; and you lose nothing if it does not exist. Therefore, it is better to bet that it does exist." (Pascal: Bensees, edited by Y. Brunchircy, Paris 1912, p. 439).
Is it mere coincidence? Or did Pascal get the idea of his 'Pari' ( = bet) from Islamic sources? Asin Palacios believes that Pascal must have read it in the Ihya-ul-uloom of Al-Ghazali. But as mentioned above, Al-Gha/ali himself refers in Mizanul-Aamal thai Ali bin Abi Talib was the author of this argument.
Therefore, we must put the credit where it belongs and accept that Pascal, though he did not acknowledge it, had got his idea from Ali bin Abi Talib (a.s.).