Allaah alone gives life and causes death and people are just means for that
Fatwa No: 260809

Question

As-salaamu 3laikum. I am confused about the issue of causing death and resurrecting people. In many ayaat of the Qur'an it is mentioned that only Allah causes death and resurrection. Also it is mentioned that Eesa 3laihi salaam brought some people back to this worldly life, by Allah's permission. You also mentioned in another fatwa that there are some exceptions to the basic principle that people do not come back to the worldly life after they die. Now I am confused because I see that people do things that seem to lead to others' death, like stabbing them and so on, but this does not contradict the idea that Allah caused them to die. So does that mean that the idea that someone could do something which leads to a person coming back to life is not ruled out? My personal feeling is that it is ruled out, but I can't explain why in light of the confusion about the points I mentioned above, and I hope that you can give me the proper answer as soon as possible. Jazaak Allahu khair

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allaah, The Lord of the Worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allaah, and that Muhammad, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, is His slave and messenger.

There is no doubt that Allaah, The Exalted, is the only One Who can give life and cause death. There is no deity worthy of worship but Him and no Lord except Him. There are many corroborating texts from the Quran and Sunnah to that effect. They all indicate that Allaah gives life and causes death in the literal sense of the words. He has brought things into existence from nothing (and out of non-existence).

As for human beings, saying that a human being is able to give life or cause death is merely figurative, since humans can be no more than causes of life and death. Allaah, The Exalted, says about the debate between Prophet Ibraaheem (Abraham)  may  Allaah  exalt  his  mention and Nimrod (what means): {Ibraaheem said, "My Lord is the one who gives life and causes death," he said, "I give life and cause death." Ibraaheem said, "Indeed, Allaah brings up the sun from the east, so bring it up from the west." So the disbeliever was overwhelmed [by astonishment], and Allaah does not guide the wrongdoing people.} [Quran 2:258]

Ibn Katheer  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him commented on the verse, “Allaah says (what means): {Ibraaheem said, "My Lord is the one who gives life and causes death" ...} [Quran 2:258] The words of Ibraaheem mean: "The proof of the existence of Allaah are the creations that exist after they were nothing and perish after they had existed. This necessarily proves the existence of the Creator, Who does what He wills, for these things could not have occurred on their own without a creator who created them, and He is the Lord Who I call to His worship, alone with no partners.’ Thereupon, Namrood said, ‘I (too) give life and cause death.’ Qataadah, Muhammad Ibn Is-haaq, and As-Suddi  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  them said that he meant, 'Two men who deserved execution were to be brought before me, and I would command that one of them be killed, and he would be killed. I would command that the other man be pardoned, and he would be pardoned. This is how I give life and cause death.' However, it appears that Namrood did not mean what Qataadah  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him said. This is because his statement does not provide an answer to what Prophet Ibraaheem  may  Allaah  exalt  his  mention said, since such a statement does not deny the existence of the creator (which Ibraaheem was preaching). Rather, Namrood arrogantly and defiantly claimed that he was the creator and pretended that it was he who gives life and causes death.” [Tafseer Ibn Katheer]

Prophet Ibraaheem  may  Allaah  exalt  his  mention meant by giving life and causing death in this verse the literal meaning, which is only attributed to Allaah, the only deity worthy of Lordship. This is why he  may  Allaah  exalt  his  mention challenged Namrood (to cause the sun to rise from the west) in order to prove the Lordship of Allaah. Namrood was, of course, unable to do so.

This was further highlighted by Ibn Katheer  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him as he added, “This is why Prophet Ibraaheem  may  Allaah  exalt  his  mention said to Namrood when the later arrogantly claimed his ability to give life and cause death, ‘Verily, Allaah brings the sun from the east; then bring it you from the west.’ The verse means, ‘You claim that it is you who brings life and death. He who brings life and death controls the existence and creates whatever is in it, including controlling its planets and their movements. For instance, the sun rises everyday from the east. Therefore, if you were a god, as you claim, bringing life and death, then bring the sun from the west.’ Since the king was aware of his weakness, failure and that he was not able to proceed with his arrogant claims, he was silenced and unable to comment. Therefore, the clear proof was established against him. Allaah says (what means): {… Allaah guides not the wrongdoing people.} [Quran 2:258]” [End quote]

This means that the ability to give life and cause death is an exclusive attribute of Allaah's Lordship; it can never be attributed to any created being. If it is attributed to human beings, it is merely figurative, indicating that this human being is a mere means by which Allaah gives life and causes death. Verily, if Allaah, The Almighty, does not will, it will never take place. This is because He is the One Who grants humans the ability and will by which they act. If Allaah wishes, He will deprive them of that ability and will and they will never be able to do anything. Allaah, The Exalted, says (what means): {… And if Allaah had willed, they would not have fought each other, but Allaah does what He intends.} [Quran 2:253]

Lastly, it should be noted that a Muslim should focus on questions about matters that lead to action.

Allaah Knows best.

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