Causes and effects
Fatwa No: 33983

Question

We believe that nothing moves without the will of Allaah and nothing remains motionless without His will. My question is, how valid is this statement: Creatures are mere images, whose essence is the command of Allaah. That is to say, fire burns only according to the command of Allaah, a knife cuts only according to the command of Allaah, the sun shines only according to the command of Allaah, etc. Please advise.

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 'alyhi wa sallam, is His slave and Messenger.

 

Allaah The Exalted is the Creator of this universe and The One Who arranges its affairs. He established it to function with stable norms and decreed that effects are dependent on causes. Yet, if He wants to change these norms or to make a cause ineffective, He can easily do so. This is because He is Omnipotent over everything: no one has the right to comment on His judgment or reject His decree. He is not questioned about what He does, but He questions His creatures.

Allaah has decreed that this universe must work according to certain norms. He has made effects contingent on causes, according to His wisdom. Thus, this statement is valid because everything in this universe works according to the command of Allaah, the Exalted, and everything happens according to His will and permission.

Nevertheless, this should not lead a Muslim to believe in the invalid creed of pantheism or incarnation, which atheists and some deviant sects believe in and promote. A person should believe that causes in themselves are ineffective, instead Allaah, the Exalted, created them and their effects. However, if He wants to, He could strip them of these effects, as happened in the following examples:

-        When Ibraaheem (Abraham)  may  Allaah  exalt  his  mention was thrown into the fire, Allaah The Exalted commanded it not to burn him. In this regard Allaah The Almighty Says (what means): {Allaah said, "O fire, be coolness and safety upon Ibraaheem."} [Quran 21: 69]

-        The water turned into a solid state and it was like mountains when Moosa (Moses)  may  Allaah  exalt  his  mention touched the sea with his staff. In this regard Allaah The Almighty Says (what means): {Then We inspired to Moses, "Strike with your staff the sea," and it parted, and each portion was like a great towering mountain.} [Quran 26: 63]

According to the belief of Ahlus-Sunnah Wa’l-Jamaa'ah (the Sunni mainstream), fire burns, knives cut and water quenches thirst, thanks to the effects that Allaah The Exalted put into them. On the other hand, other groups have gone astray and denied the effect of these causes in action, and claim that the effect of the cause occurs at the accompaniment of the cause, not by the cause itself. In other words, they claim that fire does not burn by itself and that Allaah The Almighty creates its burning effect when something is thrown onto it. Likewise, they claim that drinking water does not quench thirst by itself and that Allaah The Exalted creates its quenching effects when someone drinks it.

This is an invalid belief because the effect of burning is caused by fire, and the effect of quenching thirst is caused by drinking water. Furthermore, there are a large number of Sharee'ah texts in this regard. For example, Allaah The Almighty Says (what means):

·        {The Fire will sear their faces, and they therein will have taut smiles.} [Quran 23: 104]

·        {And We have sent down blessed rain from the sky and made grow thereby gardens and grain from the harvest.} [Quran 50: 9]

·        {Have they not seen that We drive the water [in clouds] to barren land and bring forth thereby crops from which their livestock eat and [they] themselves? Then do they not see?} [Quran 32: 27]

There are also further verses that indicate Allaah has created effects from causes, and they work according to the will of Allaah The Exalted and His decree.

Allaah Knows best.

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