Cause and Effect

Averroes (Ibn Rushd:1126-1198 C.E) the great Spanish Muslim philosopher and physician opined: “The human actions depend partly on his own free will and partly on causes outside his control. Man is free to wish and to act in a particular manner, but his will is always restrained and determined by exterior causes. These causes spring from the general laws of nature; God alone knows their sequence”. The changes are constantly taking place in the universe; each change is always the effect of some cause or causes. Each cause is itself the effect of a further cause or set of causes; this chain moves in a series that either never ends or is completed by a first cause, which must be of a radically different nature in that it is not itself caused. In philosophy, the First Cause, is the uncreated or self-created cause to which every series of causes must ultimately be traced, which is God. The law of “Cause and Effect” applies to human life as well. Indeed, it has a direct bearing on the task assigned to man by God, when He first created him, that is, building human life on earth. That is the law of cause and effect, which operates, by Allah’s will. For example, fire burns, therefore, when something is put close to a fire, it will burn. If finger is placed on top of the flame, burning sensation will immediately be felt. If it is not done, such feeling will not be experienced. This is a simple example of the working of the law of cause and effect. Hence if someone places his finger close to the flame of fire and say that God’s Will may prevent the fire from burning. It is certainly true that God may stop the action of the fire (as was done miraculously to save Prophet Abraham, peace be upon him) but normally it is His Will that fire should burn. Therefore, when things are placed in a fire they are burnt. No individual or community can ignore this law or its implications without suffering disastrous consequences: “Verily never will Allah change the condition of a people until they change it themselves; and when God wills people to suffer evil (in consequence of their own evil deeds), there is none who could avert it: for they have none who could protect them from Him.”(Qur’an:13:11). A good example of how the law of cause and effect works is in the narrative of Prophet Joseph, peace be upon him (Qur’an;12, Geneis;37-50)  wherein  due to his good planning, he stored the grains during good harvesting period, which were used to save the people of Egypt and surroundings from starvation during the forthcoming drought. According to an other incidence, narrated by Abdullah bin Abbas that ‘Umar bin Al-Khattab (2nd Caliph) departed for Sham (Syria) on an expedition. En route he came to know that an epidemic had broken out at Syria. After consultations, Umar decided to return back to Medina. Abu ‘Ubaida bin Al-Jarrah, the commander of the Muslim army,  said to ‘Umar, “Are you running away from what Allah had ordained?” ‘Umar said; yes, we are running from what Allah had ordained to what Allah has ordained. Don’t you agree that if you had camels that went down a valley having two places, one green and the other dry, you would graze them on the green one only if Allah had ordained that, and you would graze them on the dry one only if Allah had ordained that?” At that time ‘Abdur-Rahman bin ‘Auf, who had been absent because of some job, came and said, “I have heard Allah’s Apostle saying, ‘If you hear about it (an outbreak of plague) in a land, do not go to it; but if plague breaks out in a country where you are staying, do not run away from it (quarantine).’ ” ‘Umar thanked Allah and returned to Medina. (Summarized from Sahih Al-Bukhari Hadith: 7.625). It may be understood that the actions of Prophet Joseph (peace be upon him) and ‘Umar bin Al-Khattab, did not contradict Allah’s Will because what ever they did, it was part of His Will. It is Allah who set that law in operation and allowed its consequences to be fulfilled. It only needs a little stretch of the mind to understand that this law is also part of predestination, in its broad, Islamic sense. The way God has created the human and the world around them makes it clear that it is His Will that people will be affected by a wide variety of causes. Therefore, if people lead a healthy lifestyle they are likely to live longer than if they are heedless of all the lessons that life brings to them.

The misfortune and evil should not be ascribed to Allah, due to His perfect mercy and wisdom. The faith is tested by God: “We shall surely test your steadfastness with fear and famine, with loss of property, life and produce. Give good news to those who endure with patience; who, when afflicted with calamity, say: “We belong to Allah and to Him we shall return.” Such are the people on whom there are blessings and Mercy from Allah; and they are the ones that are rightly guided.”(Qur’an;2:155-157); “Now, when trouble touches man, He cries to us: but when we bestow a favour upon Him As from ourselves, He says, “This has been given to me because of a certain knowledge (I have)!” Nay, but This is but a trial, but Most of them understand not!. Thus did the (generations) before them say! but all that They did was of no profit to them. Nay, the evil results of their deeds overtook them. and the wrong-doers of This (generation)- the evil results of their deeds will soon overtake them (too), and They will never be able to frustrate (Our Plan)!”(Qur’an;39:49-51). Allah’s decree by itself has no evil whatsoever, because it is coming from mercy and wisdom. Allah, the Exalted said: “Corruption has appeared on the land and sea for what men’s hands have earned. Allah has ordained this for men, so that they may taste some of what they have done, in order that they may turn back (from evil)”(Qur’an;30:41).

A Hadith is mostly misunderstood, in the perspective of destiny. Narrated Abdullah bin Musud; Allah’s Apostle, the true and truly inspired said:

‘Indeed, the creation of each one of you is brought together in the mother’s belly for 40 days in the form of a drop of sperm, then he is a germ-cell for a like period, then an embryonic lump for a like period, then there is sent to him the angel who blows the breath of life into him & who is commanded about four matters: to write down his means of livelihood, his life span, his actions and whether happy or unhappy. By Allah, other than whom there is no God, one of you may behave like the people of paradise until there is but an arm’s length between him and it, and that, which has been written overtakes him and so he behaves like the people of hell fire and thus he enters it; and one of you behaves like the people of hell fire until there is but an arm’s length between him and it, and that, which has been written overtakes him and so he behaves like the people of paradise and thus he enters it.(Sahih Al Bukhari Hadith. 4.430 & 8.593, also Sahih Muslim.1216). This Hadith is to be understood in the context of ‘Timeless Absolute Knowledge of God’, law of ‘cause and effect’ free will, trial, reward and His Justice. God has willed that each person shall have the freedom of choice and that freedom takes place according to man’s decision. It is true that God knows what every person chooses even before he makes the choice, but there is no coercion in that matter. It is the knowledge that the angel records when he, by God’s command, breathes the spirit into the fetus. He writes what God knows. There are areas, in which man has no choice; such as his being affected by natural forces, being subject to burn in fire, drown in water, be killed with a bullet that hits his heart or brain, etc which are also known to God. It is the man who makes the choice of his means of   livelihood and his effort. If one sits at home doing nothing for a livelihood, he will get nothing. If he goes out to work and exerts his best efforts in improving his situation, he will get the reward, the quantity of this reward is as per His blessings. The same applies to his life duration. If he exposes himself to great risks, he is likely to die quickly. If he does the type of good acts, which the Prophet (peace be upon him) describes as prolonging life, such as kindness to relatives and dutifulness to parents, then God will give him extra years. The end of this Hadith is often misunderstood, because some people may take it as a reference to what God had already written down to be the fate of a person in the Hereafter. It is everyone’s total sum of the working of his or her free choice and free will that determines their fate, which is blessed by God. Thus, it is the person himself who may change his or her course of action shortly before their death. He would have done good deeds throughout his life, but then one day he sinks into disbelief and takes actions that place him among those who will go to Hell. This is again his free choice. It is true that the angel recorded this before his birth, but that recording is based on his (exercise of) free choice, which is already known to Allah. This ending of the Hadith stresses the importance of being always on the watch for what may enhance the position of a person in the Hereafter. People must never feel too secure as a result of having done well in the past life. They must continue to do so until death. At the same time, one must never despair if done badly. Repentance and mending the ways, with sincerity and trust in God, will ensure the safety: No one has the authority to alter the decisions of Allah but Allah himself can change his decision and this can happen when a believer prays to Him: “They pray to Allah, ‘Our Lord, let not our hearts become perverse after You have once guided us aright; bestow upon us mercy from Yourself for You are the real Benefactor’!”(Qur’an;3:8). Allah is not bound, He is All Powerful, Mighty, free to do what ever, erase or change at His will. Companion Salman Farsi narrates that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said; “Qadar cannot be altered but by Prayer” (Tirmidhi). When some one prays, even it is also in the knowledge of God.  [ Cause and Effect: http://wp.me/PCgrB-8r]

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