Praise be to Allāh, the Lord of the worlds, and prayers and blessings upon our Prophet Muhammad, his family, and his companions.
This is a concise essay on the belief that Muslims are obligated to have regarding what occurs in the universe of both good and evil, blessing and disaster.
Allāh is the Lord of the worlds, the creator of all things, the owner of all things, the one in control of all things. He is able to do all things, knows all things, and He is the Most Wise.
Everything besides Allāh is created, whether animals, non-living things, small, great, visible, and invisible. Even the actions of people are created by Allāh. Allāh Almighty says: “Allāh is the creator of everything,” and He Almighty said: “Allāh created you and that which you do.”
Every created thing occurs with the decree of Allāh. Allāh Almighty said: “Indeed, all things We created with qadar (predestination).” The meaning of ‘with the qadar’ of Allāh, is that Allāh willed for something to occur in a specific way, amount, time and place, by a specific actor, through specific means. Allāh decreed all these details, thus He knows them all. Furthermore He wrote them in the Preserved Tablet (al-Lawh al-Mahfūdh). As reported in Sahīh Muslim by ʿAbd Allāh b. ʿAmr b. al-Ās who said: I heard the Prophet (peace be upon him) say: “Allāh wrote the dictates of all creation fifty thousand years before creating the heavens and earth.”
He created everything as He willed and decreed.
Everything that Allāh decrees in the universe has immense wisdom. Nothing was created by Allāh in jest. Allāh Almighty said: “And We did not create the heaven and earth and that between them in play.” And He said: “Then did you think that We created you uselessly and that to Us you would not be returned? So exalted is Allāh, the Sovereign, the Truth; there is no deity except Him, Lord of the noble throne.”
The qadar of Allāh is of two categories.
The first category
The first category is that which occurs as a direct result of the decisions and actions of the human being. He is held accountable for these, and is recompensed in this life, the next, or both. If good, then he is recompensed with good, and if evil, then with evil. Allāh Almighty said: “So whoever does an atom’s weight of good will see it… And whoever does an atom’s weight of evil will see it.” And He said: “And you will not be recompensed except for what you used to do.”
Included in this category are means which people take to obtain benefit and ward off harm. Indeed the worldly rewards mentioned above include the procurement of the intended results that Allāh attached to those means.
The relationship between such causes and their effects come in levels. The strongest relationship is a conditional one. This is where a cause is a necessary condition for an effect. The result cannot occur without its specific cause, although the result may not necessarily follow from its cause, due to a wisdom intended by Allāh. For instance, sexual relations is a cause and condition for having children, eating is a cause and condition for satiation, some – not all – medicines are causes and conditions for cure.
Then there are also means which are not absolutely necessary but still highly likely to be required for the desired result. For example, harmful food is a cause of illness, healthy food along with exercise is normally a cause of fitness and strength, and effort is a cause of success, generally speaking.
At times the result will certainly follow the cause, due to a promise Allāh took upon Himself. In this case, the cause is both necessary and sufficient to lead to its result. An example of this is accepting Islam, which Allāh made a conditional cause for entering Paradise, just as disbelief was made a conditional cause for eternal punishment. Allāh Almighty said: “The pious are in blessing [Paradise] and the corrupt are in the Fire.”
The weakest causal relationship is where the link between cause and effect is extremely weak—bordering the imaginary or superstitious. This is when there is no evidence for the causal relationship from the Sharīʿa, and empirical experience attests to its weakness, such as some unproven medicines as treatment for illnesses.
Between these two extremes is a spectrum of varying strengths of relationship between cause and effect. For example, working hard to seek provision, or taking various safety precautions, include a multitude of means of various efficacies. These are all completely pre-determined by Allāh’s decree and wisdom, as mentioned earlier.
Thus, the Muslim is obligated to work towards procuring the benefits and warding off the harms of this life and the next. He must take the necessary steps—both Islamically derived (sharʿī) and empirical—that Allāh made conditions for desired results. Whilst doing so, he should be certain that these steps have no efficacy except by the will of Allāh; if Allāh wills He may render any cause ineffective—save those which He Himself promised to remain effective. To place total reliance on natural causes is a type of shirk (polytheism); to turn away completely from causes implies a deficiency in the Sharīʿa; while claiming that causes have no relation to their natural effects is a deficiency in intellect. Allāh Almighty said: “And prepare against them whatever you are able of power and of steeds of war by which you may terrify the enemy of Allāh and your enemy and others besides them whom you do not know [but] whom Allāh knows. And whatever you spend in the cause of Allāh will be fully repaid to you, and you will not be wronged.”
Indeed, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “Strive for that which benefits you. Seek Allāh’s help and do not feel helpless. If something befalls you do not say “If only I did such and such,” but say “Allāh decrees, He does what He wishes.” Indeed, the phrase “if only” opens the door to Shaytān’s works.”
This is the way of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) and the prophets before him.
It is incumbent upon man to rely upon Allāh to put benefit and blessing in the means that he takes. Allāh Almighty said: ‘’Whoever relies upon Allāh, He shall suffice him.” There is therefore no conflict between taking means and reliance upon Allāh. In fact, reliance upon Allāh is one of the greatest means for obtaining desired consequences. ʿUmar (Allāh be pleased with him) said: I heard the Prophet (peace be upon him) say:
“If you all depend on Allāh with due reliance, He will certainly give you provision as He gives it to birds who go forth hungry in the morning and return with full bellies at dusk.”
This hadīth establishes that birds go and come forth, and hence, they also act according to the necessary causes that are within their ability.
The second category
The second category is that which occurs independently of the human being’s direct actions, including both benefits and harms. For example, he was born in such and such time and place, he will die in such and such time and place. Various misfortunes and calamities may befall his health or wealth despite him taking the relevant necessary measures—both material and metaphysical (sharʿī).
This also includes changes in nature: the weather such as the wind, rain, waves in the sea; natural disasters such as earthquakes, volcanos and floods; and the majority of illnesses and epidemics that man did not initiate. And likewise, rainfall and an abundance of goodness and bounty.
As for this category, Allāh Almighty causes it to occur with perceivable or metaphysical means, and in most cases, both simultaneously.
What is mean by “perceivable means” includes the laws of physics, chemistry and biology. For example, water boils at a particular temperature and pressure; certain illnesses are caused by certain epidemics; good health is attained by healthy food and certain medicines; and likewise, solar and lunar eclipses are brought about by certain physical means. As mentioned above, as a general rule, Allāh (Glorified is He) causes perceivable means to occur concomitantly with metaphysical means.
Metaphysical means are what Allāh made as causes for (the bestowal of) His bounties or His wrath. Thus, the greatest of causes to acquire His bounties is tawhīd itself (monotheism) of Allāh and His worship, reliance on Him, supplicating to Him, turning to Him in repentance, seeking His forgiveness, doing good, and showing kindness to the creation of Allāh.
He, the Exalted, said:
“And if only the people of the cities had believed and feared Allāh, We would have opened upon them blessings from the heaven and the earth; but they denied [the messengers], so We seized them for what they were earning.”
It is on the authority of Abū Umāmāh (Allāh be pleased with him) that he said, the Messenger of Allāh (peace and blessings be upon him) said:
“Doing good to people protects one from evil fates, charity in secret extinguishes the anger of the Lord, and maintaining the ties of the womb increases one’s lifespan.”
As for the greatest causes to acquire His wrath, then it is arrogant disbelief, sexual immorality, and injustice to His slaves.
And He, the glorified, said:
“And whatever strikes you of disaster – it is for what your hands have earned; but He pardons much.”
It is on the authority of Abū Bakra (Allāh be pleased with him) that he said, the Messenger of Allāh (peace and blessings be upon him) said:
“There is no sin more worthy of Allāh hastening the punishment for in his world—alongside what is stored for its perpetrator in the hereafter—than oppression and severing the ties of the womb.”
And He, the exalted, said:
“Why [is it that] when a [single] disaster struck you [on the day of Uhud], although you had struck [the enemy in the battle of Badr] with one twice as great, you said, “From where is this?” Say, “It is from yourselves.” Indeed, Allāh is over all things competent.”
That which occurs without human activity, of good and bad, is a test for all people; the Muslim and the disbeliever, the righteous and the rebellious. Allāh Almighty said: “And We test you with evil and with good as trial” And He, the glorified, said: “[He] who created death and life to test you…” And He, the exalted, said: “Indeed, We have made that which is on the earth adornment for it that We may test them [as to] which of them is best in deed.”
All of that which is decreed independently of human activity is only “good” or “bad” according to the human being’s perception of it, not according to what Allāh Almighty intended it as. In fact, all of it—after the advent of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him)—is a mercy from Allāh to all living people. In these decreed matters are many wisdoms other than them being a test, some of which Allāh may make manifest to some of his creation, whilst not to others. This is because it is from the Unseen, even though some of these wisdoms may be deduced in some situations.
One of the most important wisdoms is the manifestation of the lordship of the Lord, His greatness, His power and ability, and the effects of His Almighty names and attributes. And this in turn has many wisdoms.
Among them is the spoiling or disturbing of this worldly life so that people know its reality and do not rely on it or become complacent. Allāh the Exalted said:
“The example of [this] worldly life is but like rain which We have sent down from the sky that the plants of the earth absorb – [those] from which men and livestock eat – until, when the earth has taken on its adornment and is beautified and its people suppose that they have capability over it, there comes to it Our command by night or by day, and We make it as a harvest, as if it had not flourished yesterday. Thus do We explain in detail the signs for a people who give thought.”
Also among these wisdoms is the atonement of the sins of Muslims. This is one of the greatest blessings that numerous evidences in the Qur’ān and Sunna have pointed to.
It is on the authority of Abū Hurayra (Allāh be pleased with him) that he said, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said:
“Tribulations will continue to befall the believing man and woman in his/her self, children and wealth, until he or she meets Allāh with not a sin upon them.”
And on the authority of Anas (Allāh be pleased with him) that he said, the Messenger of Allāh (peace and blessings be upon him) said:
“When Allāh intends good for His slave, He hastens his punishment to this worldly life. When He intends bad for His slave He withholds his sins from him until he is brought forth with them on the Day of Standing.”
Also among these wisdoms and these blessings are the gaining of reward and elevation of rank, which are not except for the believers. These are generally conditional upon patience and perseverance (sabr), contentment (ridā) and gratitude (shukr) they show in response to these decreed matters.
It is on the authority of ʿĀ’isha (Allāh be please with her) that she said, the Messenger of Allāh (peace and blessings be upon him) said:
“Not so much as a thorn pricks a believer excerpt that Allāh raises his rank or removes a sin from him as a result.”
Another wisdom is to warn people, both Muslims and disbelievers, the righteous and rebellious among them, whilst usually applying to oppressors and the arrogant, regardless of whether they are Muslims or disbelievers. Allāh the exalted said: “And We send not the signs except as a warning.” And He, the exalted, said: “And if only the people of the cities had believed and feared Allāh, We would have opened upon them blessings from the heaven and the earth; but they denied [the messengers], so We seized them for what they were earning.”
And there are other wisdoms that we do not know about, in the regulation of the cosmos and the management of provision. Indeed, Allāh is the one who is al-Hakīm (most wise) and al-Khabīr (best acquainted), and He may combine between multiple if not all wisdoms in anything He decrees.
The following is obligatory in response to the occurrence of bounties, upon both the Muslim and disbeliever, righteous and rebellious.
1) Tawhīd of Allāh in that he attributes those bounties to Allāh alone, in terms of their predetermination, origination, creation, favour and generosity. That he also believes that had Allāh willed He would have prevented those bounties. Allāh the exalted says: “And whatever you have of favour – it is from Allāh. Then when adversity touches you, to Him you cry for help.”
And the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said that Allāh Almighty said:
“This morning there were among my slaves a believer in me and a disbeliever. The one who said “We were given rain by Allāh’s grace and mercy” is a believer in me and disbeliever in the stars. But the one who said “We were given rain by such and such rain star” is a disbeliever in me and believer in the stars.”
2) Gratitude to Allāh Almighty, internally and externally, then using the bounty in a way pleasing to Him. He, the exalted, said: “And be grateful for the favour of Allāh, if it is [indeed] Him that you worship.”
3) One may attribute a bounty to one’s own acquisition after (mentioning) the grace of Allāh, without asserting it, as long as one strove to acquire it by seeking the perceivable and metaphysical means that the senses or Shari’a, respectively, asserted. This is as long as it does lead to self-deception or arrogance. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said:
“Know that if a whole nation came together to benefit you with something, they would not be able to do so except with something that Allāh had already decreed for you. The pens have been lifted and the pages have dried.” One must remember that had Allāh so willed, it would not have happened.
4) It is recommended one is humble and fears that a bounty could be a form of istidrāj for him; gradually leading some to be more headless by thinking that these bounties are signs of Allāh’s pleasure with them.
The early Muslims practiced all of the above, Allāh be pleased with them.
The following is obligatory in response to calamities beyond human agency, such as earthquakes, volcanos, pandemics, eclipses and droughts.
1) Affirming the Tawhīd of Allāh Almighty, that they are attributed to Allāh in terms of pre-decree, origination, creation, justice and mercy, and that had He so wished He would have averted them. The evidences for this have already been mentioned.
2) Patience and perseverance both inwardly and outwardly, and working towards removing or lightening the calamities. Allāh the Exalted said: “O you who have believed, persevere and endure and remain stationed and fear Allāh that you may be successful.”
3) One may attribute a calamity to oneself indirectly, as long as it is not asserted, since the Sharīʿa has informed us of certain calamities caused by sin and rebellion, such as withholding of rain and removal of barakah (blessing).
4) It is thus imperative that one heeds a warning. It could be the punishment for sin, or a reminder for people. He, the Exalted, says: “Corruption has appeared throughout the land and sea by [reason of] what the hands of people have earned so He may let them taste part of [the consequence of] what they have done that perhaps they will return [to righteousness].”
One should then repent, seek forgiveness, and increase in good deeds. This is why the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) would retreat in a frightened state to the prayer when a calamity would strike, and legislated for us the eclipse prayers.
If people act carry out what they have been instructed during both prosperity and adversity, the mercy of Allāh will become manifest and the end will always be good for them both in this life and the next; the disbeliever and sinner will turn back to Allāh, and the Muslim will be increased in goodness. However, if they do not carry out what Allāh has legislated for them, the bounty will turn into calamity, and the calamity will increase in impact, both in this life and the next.
Absolutely everything that occurs in the universe—both “good” and “bad”—is pre-decreed and created by Allāh Almighty. If something occurs outside of one’s control then know that it occurs with the justice of Allāh and his mercy, and He intends good for you by it.
If people carry out what Allāh mandated in the face of both prosperity and adversity, then Allāh will make the end good for them in this life and the next. But if they do not, then bounty will turn into punishment, and punishment will proliferate in this life and the next.
It is incumbent upon people that they take those means which Allāh linked to their respective ends, whilst having trust and reliance upon Allāh Almighty.
We ask Allāh Almighty to shower us with His kind grace and generosity, and that He grants us greater insight into our Dīn, for He is indeed our Almighty Supporter.
All praise and thanks belong to Allāh, Lord of the worlds. May peace and blessings be upon the Seal of the Prophets and Messengers, our Prophet Muhammad, his family and companions.
Translated by Zahed Fettah & Salman Butt.
The original Arabic version can be found here: https://dorar.net/article/2032
 Al-Qur’ān 39:62
 Al-Qur’ān 37:96
 Al-Qur’ān 54:49
 Muslim (2653)
 Al-Qur’ān 21:16
 Al-Qur’ān 23:114-115
 Al-Qur’ān 99:7-8
 Al-Qur’ān 37:39
 Means and causes are both used here—depending on context—as translations of أسباب.
 Al-Qur’ān 82:13-14
 Al-Qur’ān 8:60
 Muslim (2664)
 Al-Qur’ān 65:3
 al-Tirmidhī (2344)
 Al-Qur’ān 7:96
 Related by al-Tabarānī in al-Muʿjam al-Kabīr 8014, and its chain is hasan.
 Al-Qur’ān 42:30
 Narrated by Ahmad in his Musnad (20398) and al-Tirmidhī (2511).
 Al-Qur’ān 3:165
 Al-Qur’ān 21:35
 Al-Qur’ān 67:2
 Al-Qur’ān 18:7
 Al-Qur’ān 10:24
 Narrated by al-Tirmidhī (2399) who said it is Hasan Sahīh.
 Narrated by al-Tirmidhī (2396), who said it is Hasan Gharīb min hādha al-wajh.
 Narrated by Muslim (2572)
 Al-Qur’ān 17:59
 Al-Qur’ān 7:96
 Al-Qur’ān 16:53
 Bukhari (3750) and Muslim (71)
 Al-Qur’ān 16:114
 Reported by Tirmidhī (2516) who said this hadīth is Hasan Sahīh.
 Al-Qur’ān 3:200
 Al-Qur’ān 30:41
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