|Kitab-ul-Taqdeer (Book of Destiny)|
THE CONCEPT OF ALLAH
Allah has always been and will always be. He was Allah even before this Universe was created, He will be Allah even when this Universe exists no more. Therefore, ‘Allah’s domain’ is not only the created universe but also beyond. This is what the Quran refers to as the two worlds of Allah - Amr and Khalq. Khalq is the created universe while Amr is whatever is beyond. (7/54)
Law pertains to the world of Khalq. Two examples are, the universal truths of ‘Cause & Effect’, and any creation being dependent on its constituent material. Amr relates to creation from nothingness. His determination to create from nothingness and His actions thereof run contrary to natural laws like cause and effect, creation within the universe, procreation, etc. Amr is based upon ‘Allah’s will’. (22/14, 11/107, 5/1, 22/18, 21/31). See 2/117 (below), also 6/14 and 30/11.
Takhleeq - ‘Khalaqun’ literally means to measure, to assess the balance and ratio of things. Thus ‘Khalaq’ means to make something with the right balance and ratio of elements according to a specific measure. The domain of ‘Amr’ (creating from nothingness) is exclusive to Allah and Allah alone. Material resulting from ‘Amr’ may be, and is, used in various proportions to create by Nature as well as Man. Allah is the best creator in this particular sense (Khalq - 23/14, 37/125). He also improvises (35/1), either by creating something for the first time (‘Abdaa’) or varying an existing formula. GHALIB put it aptly .... (1) Also, IQBAL: (2)
Characteristics of the Domain of Amr: This is the initial stage of creation. The chemistry of it all is beyond human comprehension and consequently, unquestionable. Allah used His exclusive power and privileges to create things (from nothingness) giving them their particular characteristics (24/45). He simply exercised His ‘will’. Man is told that the universe was created ‘rightfully’ (16/30) not wrongfully (3/19). It is upto Man to delve into the mechanics of it all to arrive at the ‘rightness’ of the universe around him. Suffice to say that the reality and function of the Domain of Amr lies outside the extents of human comprehension and its concept of ‘cause & effect’.
Having created the universe according to His own will, Allah introduced a great change in this cosmic program. Now, He bound His Amr in LAWS. This demands intense ponderance.
The Arabic word ‘QANOON (قانون) (3) has not been used in the Quran in the meaning of LAW. It seldom appears even in contemporary Arabic literature. Instead, the Quran has employed a root more comprehensive than QANOON. It is Q-D-R with the basic meaning of a measure. (قدرت الشيء) means: I measured that thing; estimated. (قدرت الشيء بالشيء) means: I measured the (one) thing against the (other) thing. (قدرت عليه الثوب) means: I made clothes for him according to measurements. Therefore, ‘taqdeer’ has the sense of something being fit to measurements. (مقدار) is a model standard or measure. (على قدر) means: He/It proved true to measure (expected standard). (قدار) is a person of reasonable average of height. (المقدر) is a person who forecasts the yield possible from a particular corn field.
It follows, therefore, that (قدر) ‘Qadrun’ or (تقدير) ‘Taqdeer’ means a measure or a standard; also, of something to be of the right measurements, standard and estimate.
Since absolute control is required to make something according to a particular standard, (قدرت على شيء) means: I had control (and power) to make that thing according to my standard/measure.
Allah’s ‘AMR’ Bound to Laws
It has been stated that the ‘Domain
of ‘Amr’ functions under the absolute power and will of Allah. There are no binding laws. In the ‘Domain of ‘Khalq’, however, Allah’s will is bound by laws (33/38: Allah’s ‘amr’ was bound by standards & measures) and thus ‘Allah set a standard to everything’ (65/3)
This needs illustration. Liquid water is transformed to solid at freezing point and reverses at a particular temperature. It flows downhill and adapts its form to the container it is in. High temperature evaporates water into vapor which, being lighter than air, rise up as clouds. At a set temperature, clouds liquefy back into water, which, being heavier than air, falls down as rain. These facts are the ‘measures / standards of water’. Another example of the ‘standards of water’ is that in the right quantity, it is a thirst-quenching and life-giving commodity whereas in larger quantities it can even kill (e.g., drowning). A date tree yields fruit in years but banana takes only a few months. A cactus seed breeds a thorny, fruitless plant whereas a mango seed yields an exotic fruit.
Laws of Nature
It is not difficult to see, then, that (قدر) ‘Qadr’ of the
Quran is nothing but the Laws of Nature. Therefore, 65/3 means: Allah has set standards / measures to everything in the universe. These laws govern the creation, growth and death (or transformation) of all things. Consider the following from the Quran:
1. Regarding the birth of a human child, it says that it starts with the semen being deposited in a safe place (the female ovum) and in (77/21, 22) it stays there for a known measure. Obviously, this refers to the period a fetus stays in the mother’s womb. (according to Nature’s law). The Quran goes on to say in 77/23 “ these measures have been set by Us and We are the best of standard setters”. Incidentally, this verse illustrates the meaning of (قادر ) i.e., the one who sets standards. A variation of this word (قادر) has been used as (قدير) in (25/54).
About the fetus it says elsewhere (13/8) that occasionally a fetus cannot achieve its full and complete growth and that Gad has set standards to all things.
2. About rain the Quran says (in 43/11, 23/18): “and We bring down rain from clouds according to a measure”. Elsewhere (13/17), it says: “after rains, streams flow according to their standards.”
3. Produce from the Earth is mentioned in (42/27): “Its produce is according to a measure set by Allah’s will. (ما يشاء is explained a little further on in this book). The four seasons for harvesting & farming are mentioned in (41/10): “Allah has set standards for four harvests (of the Earth).”
4. Summing up, it says about all universe in (25/2) “He created all things and set a measure to them.”. More precisely in (54/49): “Surely, We created everything according to a measure.” Special attention should be paid to two verses from Sura ‘Al-Aala’: “Allah initiated all creation, then gave everything a suitable proportion, set standards to them and programmed them for growth according to those measures.”
5. Let us now look at references where (قدر) is even more clearly used in today’s sense of ‘Laws of Nature’. Even a school child knows about the Earth’s rotation causing day and night according to set laws. This enables us to forecast, with certain precision, sunrise and sunset. The Quran says in (73/20): “Allah has set standards to day & night.” Also, about the moon (10/5): “Allah has set stages for it.”
The meaning of (تقدير) may be very clear by the following: “The sun is traveling towards its station. This is the measure set by the all-knowing and almighty (Allah).” Elsewhere (41/12), it talks about the heavenly bodies in general, and about stars in particular, and then says, “These are the standards set by the all-powerful and all-knowing (Allah)”.
This illustrates then, that (تقدير) means Laws of Nature and NOT Man’s destiny.
One may ponder here on the point that the above mentioned verses say ‘Allah’s taqdeer’ (standards set by Allah). Therefore, it will be factually erroneous to say ‘Man’s taqdeer’ because Man has not (and cannot) set standards to the universe.
The truth of the matter is that so many of our problems arise because of our misuse of words and their meanings. The only way to comprehending the Quran is to ascertain the correct meanings of its vocabulary, terminology and concepts.
These taqadeer (standards, measures - law of Nature) of Allah’s are pre-determined (it was done in the domain of ‘Amr’) and they are ‘written’ in the ‘book of Nature / Universe’. This is referred to as ‘the clearly set book’. It says in Sura An’aam: “Allah knows what is in the seas and on land. He knows every leaf that falls off a tree. He also knows even a grain in the darkness of the Earth. The truth is that each and every thing (in detail) is there in the clearly-set book.” (6/59) That is to say that standards have been set to all things in the universe and are there. (17/58) ((for anyone to read if they so wish)). This is physics (science). That is why these laws are called (بقدر معلوم) in (15/21) and (15/24) i.e., laws which can be discovered. Adam (mankind) is said to have been given ‘the knowledge of names’. This is nothing but the knowledge of the universe.
Laws of Nature are Permanent
Law is defined as: If.......... then ............ always
A ‘law’ is different from an ‘order’: ‘Law’ is based upon its consistency (if you do this, that will ALWAYS happen). ‘Order’ is a decision. A master issues a variety of orders to his servants. One order may differ in kind from the previous one. Therefore, ‘orders’ are decisions which are subject to change. But when an order (decision) becomes consistent (with no possibility of change), it becomes law (unchangeable decision). Allah’s decisions about the universe (standards and measures) are unchangeable. The permanence of laws of Nature provides the foundation for the sciences. This ever-reliable foundation of permanent laws enables (‘tawakkal’ in the Quranic terminology) the earthlings to take successful trips to the Moon. In fact, the entire structure of our wonderful universe stands on the permanence, consistency and reliability of the laws of Nature.
Allah’s Word (كلمة الله) and Allah’s Way (سنة الله):
Both of these
expressions in the Quran have been used to mean Allah’s law. ‘Kalima’ is the formula (theory) while ‘SunnatAllah’ is the practical form the ‘Kalimatullah’ takes. Both of these are permanent: (6/34, 6/116, 18/27 and also 10/64) for ‘Kalimatullah’ and (33/62, 40/85, 48/23) for ‘SunnatAllah’. Not only are these laws permanent but they don’t even change course (17/77, 35/43)! It has been mentioned above that Allah’s ‘Amr (will) becomes (قدرا مقدورا) ‘set standards & measures’ in the created universe. This is referred to as ‘SunnatAllah’ in (33/38), i.e., it becomes unchangeable law.
We have also said earlier that according to the Quran Allah has
created the universe with ‘Haq’ (productive, beneficial and realizable results). This purpose of the universe is mentioned in (10/82): ‘Allah proves the validity of ‘Haq’ through His laws’, and also in (42/24): ‘Allah, through His laws, removes ‘Baatel’ (the wrong) and establishes ‘Haq’ (the right).” This phenomenon (realization of beneficial & productive results through His laws) naturally requires eons (33/5, 70/4). But their pace can be wondrously quickened if Man joins in the action by studying the physical laws of Nature and adopting Allah’s laws for human society - (see ‘Islam Kya Hai?’ (What is Islam?) or ‘Islam: A challenge to Religion’ by the same author for a detailed treatment of this point) The Quran says in (65/3): ‘Surely, Allah sees to it that His Amr (Will) is realized. That was the purpose of establishing standards & measures for all things.
The created universe has no freedom of choice: Since Laws of Nature are permanent, the universe has to follow them anyway. All things in the universe do that faithfully (please see: 16/49, 2/116 and 57/1).
Let me give you a summary of what has been said so far:
1. Allah has formulated and established laws for all things in the universe, exercising absolute control.
2. The universe is bound to follow the laws of Nature.
3. These laws are discoverable (قدر معلوم) by Man (2/34). The Quran summarizes this in (45/13): “Allah has made the entire universe conquerable (you can harness it). There are clear signs in this for those who care to think”.
Allah bound Himself!
We have seen a great change in Allah’s great
design of things; i.e., His ‘Amr - absolute power and choice - transformed to building permanent Law of Nature. In other words, Allah bound Himself! Shocking, isn’t it? But, it IS true. We witness it routinely. For example, see (6/12 & 6/54) where He says: ‘He has made Rahma compulsory for Himself. (4) Also, see (10/103): ‘We have the obligation to protect the convinced. (5) This has also been termed as ‘Allahs Promise’ in (16/38, 31/9, 31/33, 35/5, 40/55 & 40/77). Also to be noted is the declaration that He always does, and will, keep His promise (30/6, 3/193).
His promises are nothing but His laws and ‘keeping
promises’ means the laws are permanent and consistent. The Quran contains a significant example of Allah’s voluntary adherence to His own Laws. One of nature’s Laws is procreation of animals and humans through the mating of a male and a female. The Quran rejects the Christian belief of the virgin birth (Christ being son of Allah) with a wonderfully logical argument. It says that despite being the absolutely free and all-powerful initiator and originator of the universe, He bound it and Himself in laws. The law requires a male and female for procreation. How can anyone be Allah’s son when He has no wife? (6/102). In other words, He would have broken His own law by getting Himself a son, but He did not!
A criticism Answered
This gives rise to the argument that a ‘law
abiding Allah’ ceases to be the ‘all-powerful Allah’. But this is misleading. One does not cease to have power if one submits to a law voluntarily. For instance, if you are made to, against your will, have a daily 3- mile early morning walk, you are forced. But if you decide to do it, on your own accord, you are free. One who keeps promises and adopts certain principles in life, is not powerless. On the contrary, such a person is termed a man of honor, upholder of principles and reliable. Therefore, Allah doesn’t lose any power by binding himself in His own Laws. In fact, such a Allah is worthy of being Allah. He is a Allah who can be trusted because His laws are reliable. Despite having the power to do so, He doesn’t break laws. This concept of Allah comes from ‘Din’.
Religion’s Concept of Allah
The religionists cannot or will not
accept this. The Allah of Religion as mentioned earlier, is a remnant of the early days of Man’s intellectual growth. Now, Man has come of age and the Allah of ‘Din’ can be appreciated. But, sadly, the religionists don’t want this concept to get popular as it threatens their privileged position of ‘mediators’ between Man and Allah. This allows them to exercise authority over people. For this very purpose, the clergy propagated the concept of autocracy and hereditary monarchy. They likened kings to Allah where both are bound by no law. People under the influence of such clergy and monarchy can only follow instructions, not observe any laws. Such is the religion’s grip on the human mind that even mutineers and freedom fighters like to see Allah as an absolute ruler, much in the mold of an earthly king! This dualism (to have a law-abiding human society and a lawless Allah) is the hallmark of religion. ‘Ad-Din’ wants to replace it with the monotheism of a law-abiding Allah and an equally law-abiding Man!.
Ghalib: Using the simile of a veiled lady who is using a mirror to make her face up, Ghalib refers to the Creator who goes on to beautify the universe.
Iqbal: The same idea is presented using a different simile of a hitherto not fully untapped plant of wine-bearing juice.
The Arabic word (قانون ) ‘Qanoon’ is commonly understood and translated into Urdu as ‘law’. Note that this work was originally intended for an Urdu readership.
The Arabic work ‘Kataba’ literally means to write (here ‘has written or wrote). Since writing makes something permanent, it is used to refer to a permanent decision (law). This is supported by the well known verse about fasting 2/183.
The Arabic word (مؤمن) “mo’min” is popularly translated into English as ‘believer’ which, to the author, is not a true representation. Even ‘faithful’ does not carry over the meaning of mo’min. This very important word springs from the root a-m-n having the basic concept of peace of mind and heart resulting from being totally convinced of something because of rational knowledge. Hence the translation of mo’mineen as ‘the convinced’.