Madinat al-Muslimeen Islamic Message Board
|God's power and Islamic life|
|08/02/01 at 08:14:08|
|Assalamu Alaikum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuh|
God's power and Islamic Life
Muslims recognize God's unique power in creating and sustaining the world - please illustrate this statement with references to the Qur'an. How is this understanding of God's nature helpful to Muslims in their daily lives?
I am not particularly happy with the statement as it is. It is not a matter of recognizing God's power or describing that power in terms of creating the world and sustaining it. What is at issue here is a concept of God and His attributes. We, Muslims, believe that God is unique: He has no equal, or partner; no one and nothing is similar to Him or can equal Him in any aspect. When we say that He is the Creator, we mean that everything that lives anywhere in the universe, and the universe itself have been created by God, the Almighty. Similarly, when we say that God is the sustainer, we mean that every life, in whichever type or form, that continues for any duration of time, is sustained by God alone.
That applies to every one of God's attributes which are total, perfect and absolute. Therefore, when we refer to God's power, we say that He is the Almighty who has control over everything.
God's power is a positive one, not idle or latent. Indeed, it interferes in shaping things and events at any moment and in any way or form to produce whatever results God wills. Let me give you an example. God has set all the laws of nature into operation. They work only through His will. This means that when sea water evaporates and forms clouds, this happens by God's will. When the wind blows, it blows with God's will. As a result, it drives the clouds to whichever areas God wishes.
It is He who directs the winds and drives the clouds. When clouds gather over an area and there is a rainfall, that takes place by God's will who also determines the measure of the rain and how many drops of rain fall over a certain area in the time He determines.
As a result of the rain, the land quickens and vegetation grows. What the earth produces is determined by God who decides the types of plants that grow, their quantity, the amount of crops or fruits they yield. People tend to think that all this is a natural process that takes place in a cycle that continues all the time.
In the Western materialistic civilization, people refer to "Mother Nature" as the force taking care of all such events.
We, Muslims, say that the whole process and all the laws of nature that are involved here and indeed in any aspect whatsoever is part of God's will. Moreover, God may intervene at any moment in these processes, cancel the operation of any single law of nature or the whole process altogether or bring in a new law that may have small or great bearing on the whole process or on human life as a whole, or on life generally. In all this, His will is free, unrestrained, and His power is absolute, controlling everything as He Himself decides.
In surah 48, entitled, "Al-Fatth", or "Victory", a statement occurs twice in Verses 4 and 7 which may be translated as follows: "To God belongs all the forces of the heavens and the earth." Other translations replace the word "forces" with similar ones such as, "armies, legions, etc." The literal equivalent of the Arabic word used in the Our'an is "soldiers". To an Arab who has a keen understanding of his language and its method of expression, the statement implies a sense that considers every creature, animate or inanimate, as a soldier carrying out God's orders and accomplishing His purposes.
The short surah entitled "Al Feel", or "The Elephant" describes the destruction of the army commanded by Abrahah who wanted to pull down the Kaaba. When the army arrived in Makkah, God sent flights of birds to destroy it.
The surah may be translated as follows:"Have you not seen how your Lord dealt with the people of the Elephant? Did He not cause their treacherous plan to be futile, and send against them flights of birds, which pelted them with stones of sand and clay? Thus He made them like devoured dry leaves."
To a Muslim, those "flights of birds", were soldiers or an army carrying out God's order and accomplishing His purpose. Thus a whole human army commanded by a powerful ruler was destroyed in a matter of minutes. What types of birds were these we do not know. Indeed, knowing their type and species is irrelevant. It is sufficient for us to know that when God wanted that army destroyed, He accomplished His will by the easiest means.
We say that God's power controls everything. Indeed, everything that moves in the whole universe is controlled by God. In the Qur'an, God reminds us of this all the time. In Surah 56, entitled "Al Waqi'ah", or "The Inevitable Event" four examples are cited in the form of rhetoric questions. These are: "It is We who have created you; why, then, do you not accept the truth? Have you ever considered that seed which you emit? Is it you who created it - or are We the source of its creation?" (Of course this refers to both the male semen and the female ovum, and by implication, to the awe-inspiring, complex phenomenon of procreation).
"Have you ever considered the seed which you cast upon the soil? Is it you who cause it to grow - or are We the cause of its growth?" "Have you ever considered the water which you drink? Is it you who cause it to come down from the clouds - or are We the cause of its coming down?" "Have you ever considered the fire which you kindle? Is it you who have brought into being the tree that serves as its fuel - or are We the cause of its coming into being?" To all these rhetoric questions there is only one answer. It is God who creates everything and all things.
Five verses in Surah 27, entitled "An-Naml", or "The Ants", provide a panoramic picture of God's power and creation. They may be translated as follows: "Who is it who has created the heavens and the earth, and sends down for you life-giving water from the skies? For it is by this means that We cause gardens of shining beauty to grow - whereas it is not in your power to cause even a single one of its trees to grow! Could there be any deity besides God? No, they who think so are people who swerve from the path of reason. Who is it that has made the earth a fitting abode for living things, and has caused running waters to flow in its midst, and has set upon it mountains firm, and has placed a barrier between the two great bodies of water? Could there be any deity besides God?
Nay, most people who think so have no knowledge. Who is it that responds to the distressed when he calls out to Him, and who removes the ill, and who has made you inherit the earth? Could there be any deity besides God? How seldom do you keep this in mind! Who is it that guides in the midst of the deep darkness of land and sea, and sends forth the winds as a glad tiding of His coming grace? Could there be any deity besides God? Sublimely exalted is God above anything to which men may ascribe a share in His divinity! Who is it that creates all life in the first instance, and then brings it forth anew? And who is it that provides you with sustenance out of heaven and earth? Could there be any deity besides God? Say: If you think so, produce your evidence - if you truly believe in your claim."
I hope that I have given an outline of the Islamic concept of God's power and how it engulfs and controls the universe and everything that exists. How is this concept helpful to us in our daily lives? I have three points to make very briefly. It is up to my reader to elaborate on them as he reflects on this concept.
The first point is that God has not created the universe and abandoned it to its own devices. Indeed, He actively controls everything that takes place in the universe. Nothing acts or moves except by His will. It is He who has, for example, set the law of gravity so that stars and planets do not move out of their respective orbits or crash into one another. He brings about any result He wants to achieve and accomplishes any purpose of His. He indeed takes charge of all that occurs anywhere in the universe.
Equipped with this concept, a believer feels reassured as he moves about. He knows that he enjoys God's care.
When he encounters difficulties, he is able to resist them. When he finds temptations, he is able to rise above their appeal. He does not compromise his principles or shed his values. He maintains the path God wants him to go along, implementing the code of living God has laid down.
As a result, believers are able to establish a clean society where the ills that plague human life in all ages and in all types of civilization have no fertile soil.
A believer does not look to any reward from any person or ruler. He only seeks God's reward. Therefore, he is able to maintain a type of living that befits man, the creature God has honoured.
[i]Arab News - 01 April 1994[/i]
Wassalamu Alaikum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuh
Haniff (with 2 f's)
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