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What does the Qur’an say about ‘Causality’?

As previously explained in other writings, causes do not possess any intrinsic power, nor do they have a true effect on outcomes. The Qur’an informs us in many verses that everything in the universe, from the falling of a leaf to the ground, occurs through divine will and power. When we look at the Qur’an, we see that it is Allah who moves the clouds, sends down water from the sky, sails ships in the sea, brings forth plants from the ground, grows various fruits on trees, produces fire, shapes the child in the womb, gives life and death, brings ease and hardship, provides sustenance, and forms shapes and appearances, etc.

Natural Events


When talking about causality and causes, natural events such as the blowing of the wind, the movement of clouds, the falling of rain, and the sprouting of plants from the soil immediately come to mind. According to the holy verses, it is the Lord Almighty who creates and performs these kinds of natural events that we see around us. For example, this holy verse shows Allah as the doer of all plants coming out of the soil: “It is He who produces gardens, with trellises and without, and dates, and tilth with produce of all kinds, and olives and pomegranates, similar (in kind) and different (in taste).” (Surah Al-An’am, 6/141)

Indeed, the fact that every fruit and vegetable, every crop is created in different shapes, colors, and tastes cannot be the work of seeds, soil, water, sun, or any other material causes; all these come about directly through Allah’s creation. The entities and events we see as causes are mirrors of divine power, heralds.

The Qur’an frequently refers to natural events that we witness almost every day in the world we live in, such as the blowing of the wind, the movement of clouds, the falling of rain, and the sprouting of plants from the soil, drawing our attention to the fact that the doer of all these is Allah. We can cite the following verses as examples:

“It is He who sends the winds as heralds of glad tidings, going before His mercy. When they have carried the heavy-laden clouds, We drive them to a land that is dead, make rain descend thereon, and produce every kind of harvest therewith.” (Surah Al-A’raf, 7/57)

Movement of Celestial Bodies


How can we attribute the high-speed movements, rotations around certain axes, and directional flows of billions of galaxies, systems, stars, planets, and celestial bodies in space to any cause? If we think about our own planet, who determines its axis of rotation, its speed of rotation, its tilt, its distance from the sun, and the movements it makes with its solar system and the Milky Way galaxy it is part of? Are all these actions done by the force of gravity? Unnamed laws? However, such laws are not the reasons for the existence of bodies but the outcomes. We deduce these laws by observing the bodies and their movement patterns. Thus, the bodies and the laws they are subject to are reflections of Allah’s creation method.

The following holy verses answer the questions above and inform us about who creates, moves, and sustains celestial bodies in space:

“It is Allah who merges the night into day, and He merges the day into night, and He has subjected the sun and the moon, each running its course for a term appointed. And that Allah is your Lord, and to Him you shall be returned.” (Surah Al-A’raf, 7/54)

Human Actions

The governance and arrangement of Allah does not only occur in the external world and on inanimate objects. Even our own bodies, senses, and actions are not independent of Allah’s will and creation. From this, we should not derive a notion of predestination because there are many verses that state that humans have willpower. Allah has linked His creation of human actions to their will and choices. What a person can do is merely to wish, want, and choose. According to his will’s inclination, his actions are created by Allah.

Moreover, many activities within our bodies such as our heartbeat, blood purification, cell renewal, and digestion of our food happen beyond our will. In our bodies, 3.8 million cells are produced per second, and in each of the hundred trillion cells, 3,000 different reactions occur per second. Who is managing all this without causing any chaos, directing, doing? Atoms, amino acids, proteins, nucleotides, genes, DNA, cells? How reasonable is it to attribute such complex and profound activities, which transcend human consciousness and will, to these building blocks that make up the body?

Such verses cut off the influence of causes and turn our faces towards the Causer of Causes:

“He created me, and it is He who guides me; He who feeds me, and He who waters me; When I am ill, it is He who cures me; He who will cause me to die, and then to live.” (Surah Ash-Shu’ara, 26/78-81)

Guidance of Animals


Just as Allah creates the actions of humans, who have intelligence, awareness, and will, He does not leave the actions of animals, which lack these faculties, to other causes. As science advances, we better understand how conscious and perfect the behaviors in the animal kingdom are. We learn from documentaries and books how they travel thousands of kilometers without losing their way, their hunting and defense strategies, how they communicate with each other, how they move in harmony as a group, etc., and we are amazed at what we see and read. Which material cause could provide every animal with the most suitable limbs, organs, senses, capabilities for survival and continuation of its species, and pass these down through generations? Surely, it is the Supreme Creator who creates animals and then meets their needs after creation.

These verses clearly show this reality:

“Do they not see the birds controlled in the atmosphere of the sky? None holds them up except Allah.” (Surah An-Nahl, 16/79)

Your Lord inspired the bee, saying: “Take your habitations in the mountains and in the trees and in what they erect. Then eat from all the fruits and follow the ways of your Lord laid down [for you].” There emerges from their bellies a drink, varying in colors, in which there is healing for people. Indeed in that is a sign for a people who give thought.” (Surah An-Nahl, 16/68-69)

Guidance of Inanimate Objects
The Qur’an in many verses informs us that both animate and inanimate beings are subdued to Allah and also subdued for the use of mankind. Subduing implies subjugation, rendering service, and readiness to obey. The derived term “musahhar” similarly means subdued, rendered serviceable, brought under obedience.

These verses indicate that beings are subdued to Allah:

“It is Allah who has subjected the sun and the moon, each running its course for a term appointed.” (Surah Ar-Ra’d, 13/2)

And these verses indicate that beings are subdued for humans:

“Do you not see that Allah has subjected to you whatever is on the earth and the ships that run in the sea by His command?” (Surah Al-Hajj, 22/65)

“Also, the sun and the moon that conduct their courses for a specified term and the night and the day He has subjected for you.” (Surah Ibrahim, 14/33)

“Also, He subjected the sea for you so that you may eat fresh flesh from it and bring out from it ornaments to wear.” (Surah An-Nahl, 16/14)

“He subjected these animals for you so that you may glorify Him for guiding you.” (Surah Al-Hajj, 22/37)

“Do you not see that Allah has subjected to you all that is in the heavens and all that is in the earth and has loaded you with His favors, both visible and invisible?” (Surah Luqman, 31/20)

“All that is in the heavens and all that is on the earth has been subjected by Him as a favor from Him. Indeed, in this are signs for people who think.” (Surah Al-Jathiya, 45/13)

Without grasping the perspective provided by the Qur’an, it is not possible to develop a correct understanding of existence, nor to establish a sound relationship between human beings, existence, and the Creator. The issue of subduing mentioned in these verses is a very important topic that needs to be analyzed from many angles. However, the aspect that concerns us here is this: Beings are not without purpose, nor are they simply subjected to the laws of nature. Likewise, beings do not have the nature or power to move on their own, act purposefully, or produce a result. Essentially, beings are not even aware of what they are, what they are for, or how they move. Therefore, it is Allah who maintains all existence, employs it in a directed manner, coordinates it harmoniously, and offers it in service to humanity.

Allah’s Creation and Decree
One of the most emphasized attributes of Allah in the verses that introduce our Lord in the Qur’an is His act of creation. Allah’s activity of creation is expressed through various verbs such as “halaka” (created), “ebdea” (originated), “zarae” (caused to grow), “berae” (shaped), “enshee” (brought forth), “fatara” (split open), “ce’ale” (made), “sevva” (leveled), “savvara” (fashioned). These verbs not only highlight different stages of creation but also emphasize that the act of creation is directly attributed to Allah.

Here are some examples of verses that discuss this in a general sense: “Allah creates what He wills.” (Surah Al-Ma’idah, 5/17) “Is there a creator other than Allah who provides for you from the heaven and the earth?” (Surah Fatir, 35/3) “Your Lord is Allah who created everything.” (Surah Ghafir, 40/62) “When We intend something, Our command is only that We say to it, ‘Be,’ and it is.” (Surah An-Nahl, 16/40) “He brings the living out of the dead and brings the dead out of the living, and revives the earth after it has died.” (Surah Ar-Rum, 30/19)

Allah, after creating, does not leave His creations to themselves. His act of creation and activity continues with new manifestations at every moment. For example, one verse says, “Who provides for you from the sky and the earth? Who controls sight and hearing? Indeed, it is He who brings forth the living from the dead and the dead from the living.” (Surah Yunus, 10/31) This verse also points to the same idea: “Allah is the Creator, the Supreme, who created the seven heavens and a similar number of earths. The command descends among them, so you may know that Allah has power over all things and that Allah encompasses everything in knowledge.” (Surah At-Talaq, 65/12)

Other verses that show Allah’s continued dominion and management over His creation are: “The dominion of everything is in His hands.” (Surah Ya-Sin, 36) “There is not a moving creature but He has grasp of its forelock.” (Surah Hud, 11) “The keys of the heavens and the earth are His.” (Surah Az-Zumar, 39/63)

Guidance to All Beings

Some notable verses concerning this topic include: “Our Lord is He Who gave each thing its form and nature, then guided it.” (Taha, 20:50) “Glorify the name of your Lord, the Most High, Who created and proportioned, Who determined and guided.” (Al-A’la, 87:1-3)

Here, the control that God exerts over creation is expressed through different terms. It shows that after God creates beings and assigns them their most suitable forms and purposes, He does not leave them to their own devices or the natural laws but continues to guide them. What does this guidance entail? When used in reference to humans, guidance means showing the right path, leading to the right path, and maintaining on the right path, which is legislative guidance. When used for inanimate objects or animals, it refers to directing them according to their created purposes, known as providential guidance.

Elmalili Muhammad Hamdi Yazir explains the guidance given to animals as follows: God’s inspirations allow them to find food, protect themselves, and fulfill the needs of life, showing their limbs and organs how to perform their functions. Regarding inanimate objects, he states: “The spinning of a sphere on its axis or orbit, the attraction of one particle to another, the expansion and contraction of a gas, the falling of a stone to the ground, the crystallization of a mineral, the dissolution of salt in water, the burning of coal with oxygen, the migration of a particle towards becoming an organ, the fertilization of one cell by another, all these phenomena occur according to this guidance.” (Elmalili, The Religion of Islam According to the Qur’an, Vol. 10/145)

The Need for the Supreme Creator Among All Beings

Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) has stated that “La hawla wa la quwwata illa billah” (There is no power and no strength except with Allah) is a treasure from the treasures of Paradise (Bukhari, Military Expeditions, 38). No Muslim is unaware or has not heard of this saying. It signifies that all power and strength belong to Allah. Similarly, the Qur’an emphasizes in various verses that all power and strength belong to Allah (Al-Baqarah, 2/165; Fatir, 35/10). Therefore, the source of power and strength is Allah. This is highlighted in the verse: “All in the heavens and earth beseech Him; every day He is in a state of glory.” (Ar-Rahman, 55/29) From this, we understand that the Absolute Almighty, through His continual manifestations, addresses and fulfills the needs of all beings at every moment.

These verses express that humans, inherently weak and needy, are utterly dependent on Allah: “Man was created weak.” (An-Nisa, 4/28) “I cannot bring myself any benefit or harm except as Allah wills.” (Al-A’raf, 7/188) “It is Allah Who is the Rich (free of all needs), and you are the needy.” (Muhammad, 47/38) “O mankind, you are those in need of Allah, while Allah is the Free of need, the Praiseworthy.” (Fatir, 35/15)

If the intellectually capable human being needs Allah to fulfill their needs and sustain their existence, aren’t other beings primarily dependent on Allah? Modern science speaks of four fundamental forces: gravitational, electromagnetic, weak, and strong forces. We know that matter and force are not two separate entities. There is no force outside of matter. Force is a property manifested within matter, and both the force and the motion it causes are characteristics apparent in matter. And we also know that everything, from the micro to the macro world, operates in an orderly manner. Bodies repel and attract each other, interact, exchange particles or energy, particles spread or are absorbed.

For movements, rotations, interactions, attractions and repulsions, formations, and transformations to occur in the world of existence, a force, a capability, is necessary. Since force cannot exist independently, what could be its source? Atoms, the particles that make up atoms, or the bodies composed of atoms? Especially considering that this force orchestrates entities in an orderly and harmonious manner, shouldn’t this force logically have knowledge, intelligence, and awareness? The reality is, as stated by the Qur’an, all power and force originate from Allah, and material entities are merely means through which Allah executes certain acts and activities behind the veil of causes.

Repetition of Creation

Let us conclude this section by pointing to a verse: “Have they found gods who have created as He creates, so that the creation seemed to them similar?” (Ar-Ra’d, 13/16) Modern science, which has sought the causes of all events in the universe in matter, energy, and natural laws, thereby attributing partners to Allah in a sense, finds the act of creation confusing and opaque. Yet, as the continuation of this verse and others make clear, everything visible and invisible, from the micro to the macro world, is created by Allah Almighty.

Contrary to what some believe, Allah does not create beings once and then leave them to the whims of chance or the laws of nature. Rather, as the verse “Do they not see how Allah originates creation, then repeats it? Indeed, that is easy for Allah.” (Al-Ankabut, 29:19) indicates, His creation continues perpetually.

In conclusion, the Qur’an demonstrates in hundreds of verses that Allah is the true agent behind all events in the world of existence and emphasizes that apparent causes do not possess any true power or creative ability. In an age where reliance on causes has never been more prevalent, bolstered by science and influencing even the faithful, it is crucial for us to learn profound lessons from these verses of the Qur’an.

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YUKSEL CAYIROGLU
YUKSEL CAYIROGLU
Professor Yuksel Cayiroglu is a scholar focusing on Islamic Law and Religous Studies.
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