Navigating Through Life Storms

Navigating Through Life Storms

By A. O.

Life StormsMany people frequently fall into despair when faced with an unexpected and sudden event. Take the example of those who have been unsuccessful at work, lost something they love or failed an important exam. If such things have become their goals, they will be unable to cope with such unexpected results and experience great sadness, for they have placed all of their hopes and goals upon the chain of events happening as they had envisioned.

However, life does not always go according to one’s plans, which means that people can face many unexpected events. For example, somebody who really wants to be an architect will study very hard for the entrance exam. All of her future plans are based upon becoming an architect. But something she never expects happens: She is accepted into another program. Having planned to become an architect, she now finds herself studying for an entirely different career.

A young man who is very interested in sports and has planned to dedicate his life to sports may suffer an injury that forces him to abandon his dream. Or, a couple may have furnished their new home with loving care, only to be forced into selling it without ever having lived in it.

Many similar unexpected events may befall people throughout their lives, for, in reality, no one knows what is going to happen even one second from now. The only thing that we know for sure is that everything in a person’s life is determined long before he or she is even born. In other words, all events in a person’s life are determined in “timelessness.” When the appointed day and time arrive, he or she will experience that event, because Allah has made it part of their destiny. Given these facts, it will come to pass.

We can clarify this with a common daily occurrence. Imagine two cars at the exact moment when they crash into each other. Both drivers definitely wanted to be somewhere else seconds before this event. Maybe they wanted to get home to their waiting families or get to work. Both individuals had left their homes at specific times and gotten into their cars. Perhaps they experienced a second of indecisiveness before turning onto that particular street, but then eventually decided to do so. Either one or both of them could have been very cautious people who always drive with the utmost care. But just at that moment, they could have taken their eyes off the road for a second to change the cassette or do something else. Everything had been specially planned for that event, and every little detail led them toward it.

Generally, any event, whether cars crashing into each other or any other unexpected event, takes place within a matter of seconds. From the drivers’ loss of concentration to the music playing and the clothes are worn – Allah had created and planned every detail of that particular event in His destiny. The person who was going to have that accident wore those clothes, left home and turned onto the street where the accident would occur. Nothing could have prevented it.

This is how Allah the Almighty preordains events. At this point, people begin to use the following logic: “If only I hadn’t gone into that street” or “If only I hadn’t been playing with the tape and had concentrated on the road.” But such logic is quite faulty and incorrect and, moreover, leads to unending complaining and regret. Although many causes may be found for the accident, the reality is that the accident and its causes were created in the course of destiny.

A person coming face to face with this truth for the first time might think: “Okay. Well, what could I have done? If everything is already written in my destiny and Allah knows about them, how am I supposed to behave when these situations occur?”

The Qur’an answers the above questions very clearly, and so we turn to it to find the truth for everything. According to the Qur’an, the best way to act and the best attitude to have is to submit to our destiny, look for the best in everything, not to get upset or fall into despair, and to be a grateful servant under all circumstances.

“Say: Nothing can happen to us except what Allah has ordained for us. He is Our Master. It is in Allah that the believers should put their trust.” (At-Tawbah  9:51)

Just as Almighty Allah is the Creator of the universe and all of its contents, which include every living and non-living thing, so is He the Creator of every event in all of its minute details. The Qur’an presents this truth in the following verse:

“That is Allah, your Lord. There is no god but Him, the Creator of everything. So worship Him. He is responsible for everything.” (Al-An`am 6:102)

Muslims who have faith in Allah, believe in the Hereafter’s existence and fear Allah, submit to our Lord, Who has created everything. In other words, they submit completely to whatever happens to them and do not despair, because they know that He controls everything and is their best friend and protector. Muslims know that panicking or losing hope are very wrong, because Allah, the most perfect Creator, has created every event. Thus, the event in question has been created in the most perfect way. Even though sometimes the events may appear to be negative, each believer knows that good comes out of everything.

Believers and unbelievers have very different reactions to events. For example, a believer may be late for an interview that she assumes will be good for her and thus lose a unique opportunity. However, assured that everything is predestined and that her being late is utterly under Allah’s control, she sees a good in this unexpected event, thanks to Allah for it, and hopes for a better end. She knows that it would be wrong to attribute this turn of events to such causes as traffic congestion or a flat tire. Indeed, if Allah had so willed, traffic congestion would have reduced or the tire would not have been punctured.

These or similar conditions are surely the apparent reasons for being late. Yet, more important than these apparent reasons is Allah’s divine plan, which specially decreed that event long ago, and that destiny was only fulfilling itself as Allah the Almighty willed.

In the above example, Allah decreed that the person in question would miss the interview. Consequently, there is no way that she could have been there.

All obstacles come into existence because Allah wills a good for believers. If people are to understand this submission fully, they must take Allah as their sole Friend and Protector and turn to Him the Almighty in complete sincerity. A most telling characteristic of the morality that Allah wills for believers are that they do not become sad or negative or fall into despair, no matter what they may encounter.

Hopelessness indicates disbelief or weak faith and is a consequence of one’s failure to comprehend that everything takes place according to destiny. Allah draws our attention to this error, for under despair lies a mood and rationale opposed to the very values of the Qur’an. Such an attitude is forbidden because Allah advises people to trust in Him, be hopeful, and see good in all that happens.

 

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Republished from the author’s book Hopefulness In The Qur’an.

 

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How Do We Know God is One? (Part 1/2)

How Do We Know God is One? (Part 1/2)

By Hamza Andreas Tzortzis

Philosophical & Theological Perspectives

How Do We Know God is OneOne of the many common questions that were asked during the Islamic Awareness Tour was:

“If God does exist, what reasons do we have to believe He is one?”

This question is important as it addresses a fundamental concept in Islamic theology, the concept of Oneness.

The Oneness of God, in Arabic tawhid, is a central theme in the Qur’an and a message of all of the Prophets, the Qur’an eloquently describes the nature of God and His oneness in the 112th Chapter:

Say: He is God, the One. God the Eternal. He begot no one, nor was He begotten. No one is comparable to him. (Al-Ikhlas 112: 1 – 4)

Before I begin to answer the question, it is important to add that the concept of Oneness in Islam is not limited to God’s singularity and uniqueness. There are many aspects to this concept which involve the way human beings should worship God, how they should understand His lordship, and how they should understand God’s names and attributes. It doesn’t stop there as these ideas transform an individual’s worldview and outlook, as a famous Asian-subcontinent thinker once wrote:

“A believer in this…can never be narrow in outlook. He believes in a God who is the Creator of the heavens and the earth, the Master of the East and the West and Sustainer of the entire universe.

After this belief, he does not regard anything in the world as a stranger to himself. He looks at everything in the universe as belonging to the same Lord he himself belongs to.

His sympathy, love, and service are not confined to any particular sphere or group. His vision is enlarged, his intellectual horizon widens, and his outlook becomes as liberal and as boundless as is the Kingdom of God.

How can this width of vision and breadth of mind be achieved by an atheist, a polytheist or one who believes in a deity supposed to possess limited and defective powers like a man?”

In light of this, there are many ways to answer the question referring to God’s singularity and uniqueness, thereby providing a positive case for the oneness of God, and they range from theological to philosophical arguments. I will present the following 5 arguments:

1. Occam’s Razor

2. Logical Argument

3. Conceptual Differentiation

4. Uniqueness

5. Revelation

Occam’s Razor

The Qur’an rhetorically asks the question: “Did the universe come out of nothing?” The answer seems quite obvious due to the metaphysical and undeniable logic that whatever begins to exist has a cause, and since the universe began to exist, therefore it must have a cause. It would be irrational to posit more than one cause for the universe, as an infinite regress of causes is impossible. The reasons for this include the absurdity of the actual infinite existing in reality; take the following examples into consideration:

1. You have an infinite number of people in a room, if I take two people away, how many do you have left? The answer is infinity minus two. However, does this make sense? If there are less than an infinite number of people in a room you should be able to count that number in the real world. But you can’t; in other words, the infinite doesn’t make sense in the real world. In light of this, Mathematicians Kasman and Newman state: “The infinite certainly does not exist in the same sense that we say ‘There are fish in the sea’”.

2. Imagine I am a soldier and I want to shoot an enemy. In order to shoot, I have to ask permission from the soldier behind me to shoot, but he also has to ask permission from the soldier behind him to shoot, now imagine this continued forever, that is an infinite amount of time? Will I ever shoot the enemy? The answers are plainly obvious. In the same light, an infinite regress of causes for the universe would mean there would be no universe in existence in the first place.

So the conclusion that the universe has a single independent uncaused cause seems quite plausible; however, you can still posit a plurality of causes all occurring at the same time. Is this a sound argument? I believe it is not a strong argument if we take Occam’s Razor into consideration. Occam’s Razor is a philosophical principle attributed to the 14th-century logician and Franciscan friar William of Occam. This principle enjoins “Pluralitas non est ponenda sine necessitate”, in English “Plurality should not be posited without necessity.” In other words, the simplest and most comprehensive explanation is the best explanation.

Essentially it means that in absence of any evidence or in absence of a need for a plurality of causes we should hold onto the most comprehensive and simple explanation. In this case, we have no evidence to say the cause for the universe is actually a combination of two, three or even one thousand causes, so the simplest and most comprehensive explanation is that this cause is one. Postulating a plurality of causes does not add to the comprehensiveness of the argument. In other words, to add more causes would not enhance the argument’s explanatory power or scope. For example, to claim that the universe was caused by an all-powerful cause is just as comprehensive as to claim it was caused by two all-powerful causes. Because one all-powerful cause is all that is required, simply because it is all powerful.

What has to be understood is that the best explanation for the origins of the universe is the concept of God and not ‘designer’ or ‘creator’.

A contention to this argument is that if we were to apply this principle to the pyramids in Egypt, we would absurdly adopt the view that it was made by one person. However, this is a misapplication of the principle. Taking the view that the pyramids were built by one person is actually not the simplest and most comprehensive explanation as it raises far more questions than it answers.

For instance, how can one man build the pyramids? It is far more comprehensive to postulate that it was built by many men. In light of this, someone can say that the universe is so complex that it would be absurd to postulate that it was created by only one being. This contention, although valid, is misplaced. A powerful being creating the whole universe is a far more coherent and simple explanation than a plurality of causes.

Now the critic may continue and argue that the pyramids could then have been built by an all-powerful being. But the problem with this is that nothing within the universe is an all-powerful being, and since the pyramids were built by an efficient cause (a person or persons that act) then it follows it must be of the same type of cause.

Logical Argument

Logic necessitates that if there were more than one God who created the universe it would be in chaos and there would not be the level of order we find in the cosmos. However you may point out that your car was made by more than one creator, one person fitted the wheels, and someone else installed the engine and another person the computer system. So from this example, there can be more than one creator with the created thing still able to exhibit order and stability.

In order to respond to this contention what has to be understood is that the best explanation for the origins of the universe is the concept of God and not ‘designer’ or ‘creator’. There may be a possibility of multiple designers or creators, as highlighted by the car example, but there cannot be more than one God. This is because God by definition is the being that has an unlimited imposing will if there were two or more gods that would mean that they would have a competition of wills and that would result in chaos and disorder. However you may argue that they can agree to have the same will or each have their own domain, but that would mean that their wills are now limited and passive, which would mean they are not gods anymore by definition!

This is explained well by the Muslim scholar Ibn Abi Al-Izz in his commentary of ‘`Aqeedah at-Tahawiyyah’:

“The most common argument they advance is known as the argument of exclusion. This argument runs like this. If there were two creators and they disagreed about something, such as one wanted to move X, whereas the other did not want it to be moved, or one wanted to make Y a living being, whereas the other wanted to make it lifeless, then, logically speaking, there are only three possibilities:

First, the wills of the two are both carried out; second, only the will of one of them is carried out; third, the will of neither of them is carried.

The first case is not possible because it requires the existence of contraries.

The third possibility is also ruled out because it would imply that a body is neither moving nor not moving and this is impossible.

This would also imply that both of them are incapable of carrying out their wills, which would disqualify them from being God.

Finally, if the will of one is realized and not that of the other, he alone will deserve to be God and the one whose will is not realized cannot be considered God.”

To be continued…

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Source: This article is republished with the author’s kind permission. It first appeared at his website – http://www.hamzatzortzis.com

Hamza Andreas Tzortzis is an international public speaker on Islam, a writer, lecturer and intellectual activist. He is particularly interested in Islam, politics, western and Islamic philosophy. Hamza has debated prominent academics and intellectuals and delivers presentations across the world on various topics; ranging from ‘Does God Exist’ to ‘Can we live better lives without Religion’.

 

 

 

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Is Allah Confined to Any Place?

Is Allah Confined to Any Place?

By Truth  Seeker Staff

“All those in the heavens and the earth glorify Allah” (Al-Hadid 57:1)

“All those in the heavens and the earth glorify Allah” (Al-Hadid 57:1)

The Qur’an tells us that:

“He is the Supreme (watching) over His worshippers.” (Al-An`am 6:61)

“They revere their Lord High above them.” (Al-Nahl 16:50)

“The Beneficent God is firmly established on the throne (of authority).” (Ta-Ha 20:5)

Above them” in 16:50 refers to the Almighty being above His servants in His Might, Power, Loftiness, not to being above them in place, space, area, elevation, or physical location; these do not apply to Him. The Messenger of Allah called upon His Lord during his ascension to heavens pleading to Him thus, “You are as You have praised Your own Self,” and Prophet Yunus (Jonah) son of Matta, while being in the bottom of the sea, called upon his Lord saying,

“There is no god but You! Glory to You! Surely I have become one of those who commit injustice against their own souls!” (Al-Anbiya’ 21:87)

The Messenger of Allah has said, “Do not exalt me over him [over Yunus] in nearness to Allah just because I reached the High Throne while he was in the bottom of the sea, for the Adored One is above being confined to a space or a direction.” He has also addressed Him saying, “You and he in the strata of the heavens;” the believers call upon Him saying,

“You and them on earth.” Had He been in a particular area or place, all these persons could not have differed from one another in His regard at any given time. He is above being confined to place or direction:

“All those in the heavens and the earth glorify Allah” (Al-Hadid 57:1)

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Taken with slight editorial modifications from http://www.al-islam.org

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Allah: The One and Only God

Allah: The One and Only God

By Truth Seeker Staff

AllahIt is a known fact that every language has one or more terms that are used in reference to God and sometimes to lesser deities. This is not the case with Allah. Allah is the personal name of the One true God. Nothing else can be called Allah. The term has no plural or gender. This shows its uniqueness when compared with the word god which can be made plural, gods, or feminine, goddess. It is interesting to notice that Allah is the personal name of God in Aramaic, the language of Jesus and a sister language of Arabic.

The One true God is a reflection of the unique concept that Islam associates with God. To a Muslim, Allah is the Almighty, Creator, and Sustainer of the universe, Who is similar to nothing and nothing is comparable to Him. The Prophet Muhammad was asked by his contemporaries about Allah; the answer came directly from God Himself in the form of a short chapter of the Qur’an, which is considered the essence of the unity or the motto of monotheism. This is chapter 112 which reads:

Say (O Muhammad) He is God the One God, the Everlasting Refuge, who has not begotten, nor has been begotten, and equal to Him is not anyone. (Al-Ikhlas 112: 1-4)

Some non-Muslims allege that God in Islam is a stern and cruel God who demands to be obeyed fully. He is not loving and kind. Nothing can be farther from truth than this allegation. It is enough to know that, with the exception of one, each of the 114 chapters of the Qur’an begins with the verse: “In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate.” In one of the sayings of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) we are told that “God is more loving and kinder than a mother to her dear child.”

But God is also Just. Hence evildoers and sinners must have their share of punishment and the virtuous, His bounties and favors. Actually, God’s attribute of Mercy has full manifestation in His attribute of Justice. People suffering throughout their lives for His sake and people oppressing and exploiting other people all their lives should not receive similar treatment from their Lord. Expecting similar treatment for them will amount to negating the very belief in the accountability of man in the Hereafter and thereby negating all the incentives for a moral and virtuous life in this world. The following Qur’anic verses are very clear and straightforward in this respect:

Verily, for the Righteous are gardens of Delight, in the Presence of their Lord. Shall We then treat the people of Faith like the people of Sin? What is the matter with you? How do you judge? (Al-Qalam 68:34-36)

Islam rejects characterizing God in any human form or depicting Him as favoring certain individuals or nations on the basis of wealth, power or race. He created the human beings as equals. They may distinguish themselves and get His favor through virtue and piety only.

The concept that God rested in the seventh day of creation, that God wrestled with one of His soldiers, that God is an envious plotter against mankind, or that God is incarnate in any human being are considered blasphemy from the Islamic point of view.

The unique usage of Allah as a personal name of God is a reflection of Islam’s emphasis on the purity of the belief in God which is the essence of the message of all God’s messengers. Because of this, Islam considers associating any deity or personality with God as a deadly sin which God will never forgive, despite the fact He may forgive all other sins.

The Creator must be of a different nature from the things created because if he is of the same nature as they are, he will be temporal and will, therefore, need a maker. It follows that nothing is like Him. If the maker is not temporal, then he must be eternal. But if he is eternal, he cannot be caused, and if nothing outside him causes him to continue to exist, which means that he must be self-sufficient. And if he does not depend on anything for the continuance of his own existence, then this existence can have no end. The Creator is therefore eternal and everlasting: “He is the First and the Last.”

He is Self-Sufficient or Self-Subsistent or, to use a Qur’anic term, Al-Qayyum. The Creator does not create only in the sense of bringing things into being, He also preserves them and takes them out of existence and is the ultimate cause of whatever happens to them.

God is the Creator of everything. He is the guardian over everything. Unto Him belong the keys of the heavens and the earth. (Az-Zumar 39:62-63)

No creature is there crawling on the earth, but its provision rests on God. He knows its lodging place and it repository. (Hud 11:6)

God’s Attributes

If the Creator is Eternal and Everlasting, then His attributes must also be eternal and everlasting. He should not lose any of His attributes nor acquire new ones. If this is so, then His attributes are absolute. Can there be more than one Creator with such absolute attributes? Can there be for example, two absolutely powerful Creators? A moment’s thought shows that this is not feasible.

The Qur’an summarizes this argument in the following verses:

God has not taken to Himself any son, nor is there any god with Him: For then each god would have taken of that which he created and some of them would have risen up over others. (Al-Mu’minun 23:91)

And Why, were there gods in earth and heaven other than God, they (heaven and earth) would surely go to ruin. (Al-Anbiya’ 21:22)

The Oneness of God

The Qur’an reminds us of the falsity of all alleged gods. To the worshippers of man-made objects, it asks:

Do you worship what you have carved yourself? (As-Saffat 37:95)

Or have you taken unto you others beside Him to be your protectors, even such as have no power either for good or for harm to themselves? (Ar-Ra`d 13:16)

To the worshippers of heavenly bodies it cites the story of Abraham:

When night outspread over him he saw a star and said, ‘This is my Lord.’ But when it set he said, ‘I love not the setters.’ When he saw the moon rising, he said, ‘This is my Lord.’ But when it set he said, ‘If my Lord does not guide me I shall surely be of the people gone astray.’ When he saw the sun rising, he said, ‘This is my Lord; this is greater.’ But when it set he said, ‘O my people, surely I quit that which you associate, I have turned my face to Him Who originated the heavens and the earth; a man of pure faith, I am not of the idolaters.’ (Al-An`am 6:76-79)

The Believer’s Attitude

In order to be a Muslim, i.e., to surrender oneself to God, it is necessary to believe in the oneness of God, in the sense of His being the only Creator, Preserver, Nourisher, etc. But this belief – later on called “Tawhid Ar-Rububiyyah” – is not enough. Many of the idolaters knew and believed that only the Supreme God could do all this, but that was not enough to make them Muslims. To tawhid ar-rububiyyah one must add tawhid al’uluhiyyah, i.e., one acknowledges the fact that is God alone Who deserves to be worshiped and thus abstains from worshiping any other thing or being.

Having achieved this knowledge of the one true God, man should constantly have faith in Him and should allow nothing to induce him to deny the truth.

When faith enters a person’s heart, it causes certain mental states which result in certain actions. Taken together these mental states and actions are the proof for the true faith. The Prophet said, “Faith is that which resides firmly in the heart and which is proved by deeds.” Foremost among those mental states is the feeling of gratitude towards God which could be said to be the essence of `ibadah (worship).

The feeling of gratitude is so important that a non-believer is called ‘kafir‘ which means ‘one who denies a truth’ and also ‘one who is ungrateful.’

A believer loves and is grateful to God for the bounties He bestowed upon him, but being aware of the fact that his good deeds, whether mental or physical, are far from being commensurate with Divine favors, he is always anxious lest God should punish him, here or in the Hereafter. He, therefore, fears Him, surrenders himself to Him and serves Him with great humility. One cannot be in such a mental state without being almost all the time mindful of God. Remembering God is thus the life force of faith, without which it fades and withers away.

The Qur’an tries to promote this feeling of gratitude by repeating the attributes of God very frequently. We find most of these attributes mentioned together in the following verses of the Qur’an:

He is God; there is no god but He, He is the Knower of the unseen and the visible; He is the All-Merciful, the All-Compassionate. He is God, there is no God but He. He is the King, the All-Holy, the All-Peace, the Guardian of Faith, the All-Preserver, the All-Mighty, the All-Compeller, the All-Sublime. Glory be to God, above that they associate! He is God the Creator, the Maker, the Shaper. To Him belong the Names Most Beautiful. All that is in the heavens and the earth magnifies Him; He is the All-Mighty, the All-Wise. (Al-Hashr 59:22-24)

There is no god but He, the Living, the Everlasting. Slumber seizes Him not, neither sleep; to Him belongs all that is in the heavens and the earth. Who is there that shall intercede with Him save by His leave? He knows what lies before them and what is after them, and they comprehend not anything of His knowledge save such as He wills. His throne comprises the heavens and earth; the preserving of them oppresses Him not; He is the All-High, the All-Glorious. (Al-Baqarah 2:255)

People of the Book, go not beyond the bounds in your religion and say not as to God but the truth. The Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, was only the Messenger of God, and His Word that He committed to Mary, and a Spirit from Him. So believe in God and His Messengers, and say not, ‘Three.’ Refrain; better is it for you. God is only one God. Glory be to Him – (He is) above having a son. (An-Nisa’ 4:171)

 

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Source: III&E Brochure Series; No. 2
(published by The Institute of Islamic Information and Education (III&E))

 

 

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Why Does Allah Allow Suffering and Evil in the World?

Why Does Allah Allow Suffering and Evil in the World?

By Truth Seeker Staff

Indeed Allah is All-Powerful (Al-`Aziz) and He is able to do all things (`ala kull sha’in qadir). The Qur’an has mentioned this hundreds of times. It is also mentioned in the Qur’an that Allah is the Creator and He is the Best Creator.

suffering and evil

Why Does Allah Allow Suffering and Evil in the World?

Glory be to Allah, the best Creator. (Al-Mu’minun 23:14)

But then the question comes why do pain, sufferings, and evil exist in the world? We find sickness, old age, and death. We see things that are ugly, people who are insane and foolish. There are storms, earthquakes, floods, drought, and famine. We also see people commit sins, show disloyalty, unfaithfulness, greed, and insincerity. We see people commit rapes, murders; they fight and make wars. We know all these and many more problems. There are evils caused by human beings and there are natural disasters. There are suffering for individuals and there are those that involve a large number of people.

But we also know that this is not the whole story. Besides all these negative things, we also see beauty, health, prosperity, life, birth, wisdom, intelligence, growth and progress. We also see goodness among people, faith, sincerity, charity, love and the spirit of sacrifice. We also see a lot of virtue and piety. It is wrong to see one side of the coin and not to see the other side. Any philosophy that concentrates on one aspect of the creation and denies or ignores the other side is partially true and partial truths are no truth at all.

It is also the fact that the element of good is more in the creation than the element of evil. We all see that there are more people who are healthy than those who are sick. There are more that eat well than those who starve.

There are more that lead decent life than those who commit crimes. Goodness is the rule and evil is the exception. Virtue is the norm and sin is the aberration. Generally, trees bear fruits, the flowers bloom, the winds move smoothly.

But then the question is why does Allah allow these exceptions to the rules?

Let us ask this question to understand Allah’s ways in His creation. The Qur’an tells us that good, evil and whatever happens in this world happens by Allah’s Will (mashi’at Allah). Only Allah knows fully His Will. We finite beings cannot grasp fully His infinite Will and Wisdom. He runs His universe the way He deems fit. The Qur’an tells us that Allah is Wise and everything that Allah does is right, just, good and fair. We must submit and surrender to His Will. The Qur’an has not given us all the details about Allah’s Will, but it has enlightened us with the guidance that is useful and sufficient for us. There are several points that we should keep in our mind to understand this issue:

1. First of all, Allah did not make this world a permanent world.

This is a temporary world and everything here has a time limit. When its time comes it will die, come to an end and finish. Neither the good things of this world are forever, nor the bad things eternal. We are here for a short time and we are being tested. Those who will pass this test will find an eternal world that is perfect and permanent. Those who will fail this test shall see the evil consequences of their sins and corruption.

2. Allah has placed a physical law and a moral law in this universe.

Allah allows suffering to occur when one or more of these laws are broken. The physical law is based on cause and effect. Sickness comes if one does not take care of one’s health or is exposed to infections. A car accident occurs when one is not alert, or drives in a careless manner, or if the cars are not checked, roads and freeways are not made and kept in right shape, or the traffic laws are not right or not properly enforced. Study of causes and effects is very important to facilitate safeguards. Even here we should keep in mind that Allah often saves us and He does not let us suffer from every negligence. How many times it happens that we are not careful and still we reach safely to our destinations. The way people drive in some cities, it is a miracle that more accidents do not happen and more people do not suffer. Allah says:

(Allah) Most Gracious! It is He Who has taught the Qur’an. He has created man: He has taught him speech (and Intelligence). The sun and the moon follow courses (exactly) computed; and the herbs and the trees both (alike) bow in adoration. And the Firmament has He raised high, and He has set up the Balance (of Justice), in order that you may not transgress (due) balance. So establish weight with justice and fall not short in the balance. It is He Who has spread out the earth for (His) creatures. (Ar-Rahman 55:1-10)

The way we exceed the measures set by Allah and violate His laws of cause and effect is incredible. It is really the mercy of Allah that we are saved. Strictly speaking, the question should not be why does Allah allow suffering, but how much Allah protects us and saves us all the time in spite of our violations and negligence. The Qur’an says:

If Allah were to punish people according to what they deserve, He would not leave on the back of the (earth) a single living creature: but He gives them respite for a stated Term: when their Term expires, verily Allah has in His sight all His servants. (Fatir 35:45)

But sometimes Allah does punish people because of their violations of His laws whether they are physical or moral. The Qur’an tells us that many nations and communities were destroyed because of their sinful lifestyles:

If they treat thy (mission) as false, so did the Peoples before them (with their Prophets), the People of Noah, and `Ad and Thamud. Those of Abraham and Lut; and the Companions of the Madyan people; and Moses was rejected (in the same way). But I granted respite to the Unbelievers, and (only) after that did I punish them: but how (terrible) was My rejection (of them)! How many populations have We destroyed, which were given to wrong-doing! They tumbled down on their roofs. And how many wells are lying idle and neglected, and castles lofty and well-built? (Al-Hajj 22:42-45)

3. Suffering can also be a test and trial for some people.

Allah allows some people to suffer in order to test their patience and steadfastness. Even Allah’s Prophets and Messengers were made to suffer. Prophet Ayyub (Job) is mentioned in the Qur’an as a Prophet who was very patient. Good people sometimes suffer but their sufferings heal others and bring goodness to their communities. People learn lessons from their good examples. Martyrs die for their faith, soldiers give their lives for their nations and this brings liberation and freedom for their people.

4. Allah sometimes allows some people to suffer to test others, how they react to them.

When you see a person who is sick, poor and needy, then you are tested by Allah. Allah is there with that suffering person to test your charity and your faith. In a very moving Hadith Qudsi (Divine Hadith) the Prophet, peace be upon him, said:

Allah will say on the Day of Judgment, ‘O son of Adam, I was sick and you did not visit Me.’ He will say, ‘O my Lord, how could I visit You, when you are the Lord of the Worlds.’ Allah will say, ‘Did you not know that My servant so-and-so was sick and you did not visit him? Did you not know that if you had visited him, you would have found Me there?’ Allah will say, ‘O son of Adam, I asked you for food and you fed Me not.’ He shall say, ‘O my Lord, how could I feed you and you are the Lord of the Worlds?’ And Allah will say, ‘Did you not know that My servant so-and-so was in need of food and you did not feed him? Did you not know that if you had fed him, you would have found that to have been for Me?’ ‘O son of Adam, I asked you for water and you did not give Me to drink.’ The man shall say, ‘O my Lord, how could I give You water, when You are the Lord of the Worlds?’ Allah will say, ‘My servant So-and-so asked you for water and you did not give him to drink water. Did you not know that if you had given him to drink, you would have found that to have been for Me.’ (Muslim, Hadith no. 4661)

Prophet `Isa (Jesus), peace be upon him, is also reported to have said something similar. (See Matthew 25: 35-45)

So to summarize, we can say that sufferings occur to teach us that we must adhere to Allah’s natural and moral laws. It is sometimes to punish those who violate Allah’s natural or moral laws. It is to test our faith in Allah and to test our commitment to human values and charity. Whenever we encounter suffering we should ask ourselves, “Have we broken any law of Allah?” Let us study the cause of the problem and use the corrective methods. “Could it be a punishment?” Let us repent and ask forgiveness and reform our ways. “Could it be a test and trial for us?” Let us work hard to pass this test.

Believers face the sufferings with prayers, repentance, and good deeds. The non-believers face the sufferings with doubts and confusions. They blame Allah or make arguments against Him.

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Taken with slight editorial modifications from onislam.net.

 

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Hurricane Sandy from an Islamic Perspective

By Truth Seeker Staff

Hurricane SandyIn the past few days, before and during hurricane Sandy, people were so scared and panicking of the consequent damages. People were prisoners in their homes with fear, anxiety, and suspense. They were following the news minute by minute to make sure that they are safe and that the hurricane is not coming their direction. Some people even left the whole city and drove or flew for many hours to escape this natural disaster and what it might bring with it.

Forces of nature?

For some people, such hurricanes, earthquakes, volcanoes, etc. are merely forces of nature that have nothing to do with faith. They come and go, just like any other natural phenomenon. No spiritual impact or lessons can be drawn from these occurrences.

Other people do believe that God has created the universe, yet they maintain that He is in isolation of whatever goes on in it. According to them, God has created the universe and then left it to work on its own, to manage itself. It is just like the watch in your hand; its manufacturer in Japan or China had made it and now it is with you; whether it works or not, the maker of it does not know anything about it anymore.

But that is totally against the Islamic belief. The whole universe is in the grip of its Creator subhanahu wa ta`ala; He is the ONE who manages it and knows every minute detail of it:

He knows what is in the land and the sea, and there falls not a leaf but He knows it, nor a grain in the darkness of the earth, nor anything green nor dry but (it is all) in a clear book. (Al-An`am 6:59)

This universe does not go on its own, it is Allah who lets it go the way it does and it is Allah who decides whatever happens in it. Allah says:

Verily, all things have We created in proportion and measure. (Al-Qamar 54:49)

In another place, Allah says:

He who has created all things and ordained them in due proportions. (Al-Furqan 25:2)

Everything that takes place in the upper world of heavens or the lower world of the earth, everything that moves in the heavens or on earth, every plant that grows up, every star that shines, every atom in the universe, all run by the will and the order and decree of Allah. This whole universe from the tiny atom to the giant galaxy is in the hands of Him, and natural phenomena are no exception.

What about laws of causality?

However, that does not go against the laws of causality for the simple reason that these laws are placed in the universe with specific measurements and mechanism according to the universal plan of Allah for the entire universe. These laws of nature work within the framework of Allah’s will and they do not deviate from His set up measurements and decrees. Once again, Allah the Almighty said in the Qur’an:

Verily, all things have We (Allah) created in proportion and measure. (Al-Qamar 54:49)

In other words, it is all according to specific set-up laws and regulations that govern the whole universe.

The positive side of the disaster

What is most important here is that the believers should contemplate on these occurrences and take lessons from them. A believer finds in each and every incident a reminder and a message that draws him closer to Allah and gets him back on the track. Some of the lessons to learn from Sandy hurricane are:

1. The limitless power of Allah

This formidable hurricane attracts our attention to the unlimited extent of the divine power and the exceptional execution of this power. When Allah wills something to happen, He just commands “Be”, and it will be right away. The earth will quake, the wind will storm, and the rivers and seas will flood; everything that Allah wants to move will move and everything that Allah wants to stay still will stay still.

On the other hand, it opens the eyes of humans to their limits and weaknesses. Humans are becoming so haughty and arrogant about their power and the little knowledge they possess. True, they were able to do many things in the universe: They were able to land on the moon and are trying to reach other planets; they made amazing scientific discoveries and technological advances; yet, they stand helpless in front of these natural disasters. Although the path of the hurricane was known in advance, nothing could be done to divert it, let alone stop it. Allah reminds us:

And of knowledge, you (mankind) have not been given but a little. (Al-Israa’ 17:85)

Westerners and secular scientist used to say that with science, man was able to defeat, suppress and subjugate the nature and the whole universe, but this is not true. Man was able to subjugate parts of this nature and universe according to the laws of subjugation that Allah has placed in the universe. But the fact remains that this nature and universe are stronger than man who stands helpless and powerless in front of it.

`Ali ibn Abi Talib, may Allah be pleased with him, used to say:

“How helpless is the son of Adam. A small bug would hurt him, and he could die if he chokes and his body would smell bad if he sweats.”

A small bug can make man restless because of its pain and nowadays we know that a very tiny microbe or virus that cannot even be seen by the naked eye except after magnified millions of times can kill man. This is how week man is, As Allah said:

And man was created weak. (An-Nisaa’  4:28)

So, through these disasters, Allah wanted humans to realize their real size and their real power in the universe and also realize that all power is from Allah, all knowledge rests with Allah and all wisdom is possessed by Allah Alone.

2. The value of this life

These disasters also show us the real value of this dunya (this worldly life). This dunya that people fight over; the dunya that people cling to so strongly and are willing to be enemies of one another for its sake has no value whatsoever. A man can be safe in his house and all of a sudden he is taken by one of these disasters. All of a sudden he is dead. In seconds, life is taken from him.

That is the value of this dunya. People think that death is far from them; however, it is very close to them, even closer to them than the garments that they wear. Allah says:

And the matter of the Hour (Day of Judgment) is not but as a twinkling of the eye or even nearer. Truly Allah is able to do all things. (An-Nahl 16:77)

3. Another chance

Finally, these disasters provide us an opportunity to wake up and get back to our Lord. Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala specifically mentioned that in the Qur’an:

Corruption (natural disasters, diseases, drought etc.) has appeared both on land and sea because of what the hands of humans have committed, that He (Allah) may make them taste part of that which they have done, in order that they may return (by repenting to Allah). (Ar-Rum 30:41)

So, these disasters might bring some benefits with them if they are really contemplated and reflected upon. It happens a lot of times that people come back to the way of Allah through hardships and calamities better than through ease and luxury.

 

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Taken with slight editorial modifications from onislam.net.

 

 

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