Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim.
We’re in an era where science is the overarching issue dominating every aspect of life. We learn from science that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. The laws of cause and effect dominate all our dealings. Scientific laws have been discovered and proven through empirical research.
However, we often don’t realize that science only deals with things which we can feel with our senses – which we can touch, smell, see, hear and taste. What science does not take into account is that there is another world beyond the senses, the world of the Unseen.
Even as Muslims, although we know theoretically that there’s an unseen world (without that belief we’re not considered believers in the first place), we don’t often apply that knowledge practically in our daily lives. Instead, we depend on scientific laws, and we’re so used to doing this that it’s become our second nature.
Consider the following example. Umar wakes up one morning late. Then he takes a lot of time to eat a delicious mouth watering breakfast. By the time he comes out of his house in order to go to the office, he’s already running late. No wonder he misses his bus. Here comes the law of cause and effect:
Cause => effect
Umar is late => Umar misses the bus
This is what science has proven to us. Reactions are caused by our actions. Every cause has an effect. Remember that science is limited by the fact that it doesn’t take into account the unseen world. What does Islam, which takes into account both worlds, has to say about this?
The Prophet said,
Strive for that which will benefit you, seek the help of Allah, and do not feel helpless. If anything befalls you, do not say, “if only I had done such and such” rather say “Qaddara Allahu wa ma sha’a fa’ala (Allah has decreed and whatever he wills, He does).” For (saying) ‘If’ opens (the door) to the deeds of Satan. [Ibn Majah]
Allah is the Subtle, the All-Encompassing Lord. The way He works is beyond our imagination. To simplify it for our understanding, let us look at this revised law of cause and effect:
Cause => Allah’s will => effect
This second component, Allah’s will, is so essential to understand for a Muslim that his entire faith depends upon it: the sixth pillar of faith is belief in al Qadr.
Take the example of Umar again. He goes out late from his house. He misses the bus. Could this event have other effects? Suppose the bus driver was late as well, so the bus was late, and Umar didn’t miss the bus after all. Suppose Umar’s clock was running fast, and so was actually early. Suppose he had an extra burst of energy and walked so fast that he overtook the bus.
Suppose that there was an earthquake, and catching the bus was suddenly out of the question. Any of these possibilities, and a thousand others, could have happened, if Allah willed so. But if Allah willed that he would miss the bus, he certainly would, no matter for what reason. We can’t fathom the subtle ways in which Allah takes care of every single matter in our lives. But that shouldn’t make us forget that things happen only and only by His will.
If we can understand this concept thoroughly, our perspective towards life can change drastically. Perhaps we’ll never experience anxiety and stress again, since nothing is in our hands. So why bother?! Just do your job and leave the consequences to Allah.
We can then stop putting unbearable burden on our own shoulders by depending on ourselves and not on Allah. We’ll stop seeking help from other people, or depending on future events. Instead we’ll seek help from Allah alone, who controls the heavens and the earth and everything that takes places between them. This is in fact the essence of Tawakkul.
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