Miracles and Causality (Part 1)

“Originator of the heavens and the earth. When He decrees a matter, He only says to it, “Be,” and it is.” (Holy Qur’an 2:117)

“This is the established way of Allah with those who passed on before; and you will not find in the way of Allah any change.” (Holy Qur’an 33:62)

“That is our established way for those We had sent before you of Our messengers; and you will not find in Our way any alteration.” (Holy Qur’an 17:77)

“We do not abrogate a verse or cause it to be forgotten except that We bring forth [one] better than it or similar to it. Do you not know that Allah is over all things competent?” (Holy Qura’n 2:106)

“Allah is the Creator of all things, and He is, over all things, Disposer of affairs.” (Holy Qur’an 39:62)

Basically there are over all three camps in regards to the issue of miracles and causality.

One camp believes that because of causality the observance of what we perceive to be ’cause’ and ‘effect’ that miracles are out of the question.

Now there is a caveat here as there is another camp that believes that miracles that do not contravene observable perceptions of ’cause’ and ‘effect’ are not problematic.

The third camp believes that there is no contradiction between miracles and perceived observance of ’cause’ and ‘effect’.

The first camp we find today’s atheist. People who do not believe in God it logically follows that they do not believe in miracles either.

The second camp is a group from among what is called ‘mu’tazilite’ philosophy; though it is important to note that not all who would fall into the ‘mu’tazlite’ camp would agree with these distinctions.

The third camp we can safely put most of the Muslims in today. In fact most Muslims do not really given thought to these matters as they do not meet the very pressing day to day concerns that they face.

For me personally I believe that the much of this debate also centres around how we understand and define a ‘miracle’. I believe that we have acquiesced the understanding of ‘miracle’ to a world that see’s division between the natural and supra-natural, to a world where God plays little to no roll at all.

The world ‘miracle’ is defined in an English dictionary as: an extraordinary and welcome event that is not explicable by natural or scientific laws and is therefore attributed to a divine agency.

However, the Holy Qur’an the word ayat -signs, miracles is used in a fascinating number of ways.

And those who disbelieve and deny Our signs – those will be companions of the Fire; they will abide therein eternally.” (Holy Qur’an 2:39)

So, We said, “Strike the slain man with part of it.” Thus does Allah bring the dead to life, and He shows you His signs that you might reason.” (Holy Qur’an 2:73)

And We have certainly revealed to you verses [which are] clear proofs, and no one would deny them except the defiantly disobedient.” (Holy Qur’an 2:99)

We do not abrogate a verse or cause it to be forgotten except that We bring forth [one] better than it or similar to it. Do you not know that Allah is over all things competent? (Holy Qur’an 2:106)

Indeed, in the creation of the heavens and earth, and the alternation of the night and the day, and the [great] ships which sail through the sea with that which benefits people, and what Allah has sent down from the heavens of rain, giving life thereby to the earth after its lifelessness and dispersing therein every [kind of] moving creature, and [His] directing of the winds and the clouds controlled between the heaven and the earth are signs for a people who use reason.(Holy Qur’an 2:164)

Or [consider such an example] as the one who passed by a township which had fallen into ruin. He said, “How will Allah bring this to life after its death?” So Allah caused him to die for a hundred years; then He revived him. He said, “How long have you remained?” The man said, “I have remained a day or part of a day.” He said, “Rather, you have remained one hundred years. Look at your food and your drink; it has not changed with time. And look at your donkey; and We will make you a sign for the people. And look at the bones [of this donkey] – how We raise them and then We cover them with flesh.” And when it became clear to him, he said, “I know that Allah is over all things competent.” (Holy Qur’an 2:259)

He said, “My Lord, make for me a sign.” He Said, “Your sign is that you will not [be able to] speak to the people for three days except by gesture. And remember your Lord much and exalt [Him with praise] in the evening and the morning.” (Holy Qur’an 3:41)

And [make him] a messenger to the Children of Israel, [who will say], ‘Indeed I have come to you with a sign from your Lord in that I design for you from clay [that which is] like the form of a bird, then I breathe into it and it becomes a bird by permission of Allah. And I cure the blind and the leper, and I give life to the dead – by permission of Allah. And I inform you of what you eat and what you store in your houses. Indeed in that is a sign for you, if you are believers.(Holy Qura’n 3:49)

Indeed, in the creation of the heavens and the earth and the alternation of the night and the day are signs for those of understanding.(Holy Qur’an 3:190)

And it has already come down to you in the Book that when you hear the verses of Allah [recited], they are denied [by them] and ridiculed; so do not sit with them until they enter into another conversation. Indeed, you would then be like them. Indeed Allah will gather the hypocrites and disbelievers in Hell all together..” (Holy Qura’n 4:140)

The point is that the term (ayat) is translated into English as signs, verses and it is used in reference to the Qur’an itself, to the natural world and to the supra natural.

So in my understanding, the Holy Qur’an, biochemistry, the birth of Christ Jesus through the virgin Mary, the creation of reality, Ibrahim not being burned by the fire, and everything is a miracle.

It is a miracle in that everything in the universe is contingent upon Allah (swt).

The Holy Qur’an says of Allah (swt),

“Allah! There is no god but He,-the Ever Living, the Self-subsisting. No slumber can seize Him nor sleep. His are all things in the heavens and on earth. Who is there can intercede in His presence except as He permits? He knows what is before or after them. Nor can they compass aught of His knowledge except as He wills. His Throne does extend over the heavens and the earth, and He feels no fatigue in guarding and preserving them for He is the Most High, the Supreme (in glory).” (Holy Qur’an 2:255)

In Islamic theology across the board there is nothing else in existence that can make this claim. It is only Allah (swt) that is Self-Subsisting, Self-Existent.

So now let us deal with the claims of those who say supra natural miracles – let us just say that which cannot be verified through scientific experiments or which go against observations of perceptible interactions between ’cause’ and ‘effect’.

Those of us who believe that everything in the universe is a miracle and everything perceptible even what we perceive as ’cause’ and ‘effect’ all go back to this verse:

“Originator of the heavens and the earth. When He decrees a matter, He only says to it, “Be,” and it is.” (Holy Qur’an 2:117)

Understanding the verse: The sunna of Allah (swt) is that when he decrees a matter he says to it, “Be” and it is.

Our theology is that Allah (swt) creates the universe Ex nihilo.

We do not believe that Allah (swt) created the universe through the logo (word) Christ Jesus, or that Allah (swt) had a magic bucket or that Allah (swt) had any aid in the creation of the universe.

However, those who believe that supra natural miracles- et us just say that which cannot be verified through scientific experiments or which go against observations of perceptible interactions between ’cause’ and ‘effect’, they actually do believe there was a change in the sunnah of Allah.

For they NOW (argue) -they had to change their position and we will come to that, but they NOW (argue) that Allah (swt) created the universe Ex nihilo and after that his new sunnah is that the universe is a universe of perceptible ’cause’ and ‘effect’. .

Now Ibn Rushd was aware of this, why else do you think he believed in the eternity of the universe? Ibn Rushd as intelligent and scholarly as he was absolutely clutched at straws to defend his position.

What is the saying, “pride comes before the fall?”

He had to argue the pre-eternity of the universe otherwise you have to deal with the forceful arguments made above. This is why modern ‘Mutazalites’ -those of the ‘Mutazalite’ influence have had to have a change in their position.

As we see that change in position still leaves them still in a quandary .

Our position is that Allah (swt) creates everything with the command ‘Be’. That which is perceptible to us as ’cause’ and ‘effect’ is because we are beings that live in time.

This brings us to another issue (that we can elaborate in another article) insh’Allah. This is the issue of the perception time. Do we believe that Allah (swt) created time or do we believe that Allah (swt) acts in time?

At least Muhammed Asad who was deeply influenced by this strand of thought , when discussing his denial of the Virgin birth of Christ Jesus states:


“In connection with the announcement of a son to Mary, the Quran states in 3:47 that `when He wills a thing to be, He but says unto it, Be, and it is’: but since neither the Quran nor any authentic Tradition tells us anything about the chain of causes and effects (asbab) which God’s decree `Be’ was to bring into being, all speculation as to the `how’ of this event must remain beyond the scope of a Quran-commentary.”
( Source: The Message of the Quran, Muhammad Asad Note 15 on verse 19:11, p. 459)

The correction to what Muhammad Asad is as follows:

Every Muslim doesn’t know the ‘how’ but we do no the ‘what’. We know that since Allah (swt) is the creator of ALL things.

“Allah is the Creator of all things, and He is, over all things, Disposer of affairs.” (Holy Qur’an 39:62)

This entails that Allah (swt) didn’t create the universe from the logos (Jesus) or he didn’t do it from some magic bucket. He (Allah) swt created the universe ex nihilo.

So we do know that when Allah (swt) says, “Be” it is out of nothing. Now, if some people who are influenced by that particular theological strain now claim that there is a change in the sunnah of Allah (swt) that is for you them to sort out.

Now let us look at what people who are influenced by this particular theological strain do to the Holy Qur’an. I thought that the Muhsin Khan translation of the Qur’an was bad but the following takes the cake:

And [make him] a messenger to the Children of Israel, [who will say], ‘Indeed I have come to you with a sign from your Lord in that I design for you from clay [that which is] like the form of a bird, then I breathe into it and it becomes a bird by permission of Allah. And I cure the blind and the leper, and I give life to the dead – by permission of Allah. And I inform you of what you eat and what you store in your houses. Indeed in that is a sign for you, if you are believers.(Holy Qura’n 3:49)

Now let us look at how the above text of the Holy Qur’an will take on a radical transformation under the influence of this theological strain:

Voila!

“and [will make him] an apostle unto the children of Israel.” “I HAVE COME unto you with a message from your Sustainer. I shall create for you out of clay, as it were, the shape of [your] destiny, and then breathe into it, so that it might become [your] destiny by God’s leave; and I shall heal the blind and the leper, and bring the dead back to life by God’s leave; and I shall let you know what you may eat and what you should store up in your houses. Behold, in all this there is indeed a message for you, if you are [truly] believers.” ( Source Muhammad Asad translation 3:49)

Comments: Apparently blind, leaper and bringing the dead back to life can be interpreted as spiritually blind, spiritually sick and spiritually dead.

However not to be outdone!

“And he will be a Messenger to the Children of Israel. He will say to them, “I come to you with Revelation from your Lord. If you follow me, I will raise you from dust to the heights of glory by the Command of Allah (7:176). The blind among you will begin to see the Truth. Those of you who are spotted with sin, I will heal them, and I shall grant real life to those who are just dragging on without purpose; all according to the Laws of Allah. I am here to establish justice and equity. I shall see to it how much you hoard in your houses and how much you spend on the community. My teachings are sufficient signs for you to believe.” (Source Shabir Ahmed translation 3:49)

These are the type of concerns that some among the traditionalist had. Can we blame them? So what happens is we superimpose our theological inclinations and our philosophy on the Qur’an.

I have honestly seen some very labored extremely labored exegesis by these people to explain away the supra natural miracles of the Holy Qur’an.

The other point is that all disputes among Muslims have to be settled by that which we have in common, the Holy Qur’an. So at the very least anyone who has this theological inclination should be able to provide their proofs and evidences from the Qur’an.

My advise to such people. Look I know you want to appeal to the atheist and win them over. However,be cautious when tickling their ego because you will find in the end that it is you that will be making all the concessions.

Interestingly as well that among cosmologist more and more of them from theoretical physicist and cosmologist Lawrence Krauss, theoretical physicist Michio Kaku & astrophysicist Neil Degrasse Tyson, the late great theoretical physicist and cosmologist Stephen Hawking have all talked about the universe being created ex nihilo. So much for Ibn Rushd.

Yet all four of those men do not believe in God. They do not believe in the supra-natural. They believe in what they can measure and in the observable perception of ’cause’ and ‘effect’. Where as we as Muslims are informed by the Holy Qur’an.

I would also like to include a link to this excellently written article by my dear friend Professor Ed Moad (May Allah continue to bless him).

https://bit.ly/2JP3OjN

The article is called: “Tying Your Camel: An Islamic Perspective on Methodological Naturalism.”

I honestly will not entertain any comments on this article about it’s contents unless the person has read Professor Edward Moad’s short paper on it as well. Which will take you 20 to 25 minutes.

Insh’Allah more to come. We rely upon Allah (swt) and the help of Allah (swt) is sought.

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