Foreordained Destiny and the Inefficacy of Material Causes-and-Effects

What does Allah say? “A token unto them is the dead earth. We revive it, and We bring forth from it grain so that they eat thereof; And We have placed therein gardens of the date palm and grapes, and We have caused springs of water to gush forth therein. That they may eat of the fruit thereof, and their hands made it not. Will they not, then, give thanks? Glory be to Him Who created all the sexual pairs, of that which the earth grows, and of themselves, and of that which they know not!” (36:33-36) In all this discourse you will notice that Allah attributes all these things to Himself while we find the causes present: we find the earth, we find agriculture, but Allah attributes all this to Himself.

Allah says in Sura Nuh, as He speaks of the means by which He has saved our master Nuh ( and those who were with him: “And We carried him upon a thing of planks and nails, That ran (upon the waters) in Our sight, as a reward for him who was rejected.” (54:13) Consider well these words. Notice that what we aim to do by citing this evidence is to make firm our awareness and our certitude that the causes which we see have no efficacy in themselves. That is what we are aiming for. Allah is here recounting in a succinct and quick manner our master Nuh’s situation. When he was besieged and harmed by his people, what did he do? “So he cried unto his Lord, saying: I am vanquished, so give help.” (54:10). Two words: “I am vanquished,” and “so give help.” “Then opened We the gates of heaven with pouring water And caused the earth to gush forth springs, so that the waters met for a predestined purpose. And We carried him upon a thing of planks and nails, That ran (upon the waters) in Our sight, as a reward for him who was rejected.” (54:11-13) “We carried him” – He did not say: “It is the ship that carried him.” Further, He did not even use the word “ship” in His wording. What did He say? “And We carried him upon a thing of planks and nails.” [That is] “We carried him upon some planks and nails which were assembled” – so as to minimize the status of that ship and make it clear for you that the ship itself is less than [deserving of] being the one that rescued and the one that saved. Thus He first said: “And We carried him.” He did not attribute the carrying to our master Nuh nor to the ship. Then He said “upon a thing of planks and nails” to let you see that some planks which were put together are not strong enough to save those people from a perpetual deluge unknown to humanity heretofore nor hereafter.

So then we have before us positive evidence that the creator of causes is Allah and that causes, all of them, melt under the authority of Allah’s Lordship. That is a truth which you are free to express in whatever theological fashion you wish. But that is what Allah Almighty’s Disclosure states. Nay, the vast majority of the Muslims hold that Allah has not deposited into these causes the least efficacy, unlike what some have said – such as the Mu`tazila – at one point. No, not at all! Allah did not deposit into fire the secret of combustion, thereafter leaving fire in charge of its mission, which consists in combustion. A simile would be a human being’s disposal of artificial intelligence, which is then left by him to do its job. No! The reality is certainly not so. Yet to some people, even among Muslims, this is imagined to be true. The latter say: “Fire burns by virtue of the force which Allah has deposited in it. Water quenches thirst by virtue of the force which Allah has deposited in it. Medicine heals by virtue of the force which Allah has deposited in it. Poison kills by virtue of the force which Allah has deposited in it.” Are these statements correct? Never.

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