Monday, 17 October 2011

References to the Law of Causality


The other argument that supports the view that the Qur'an approves of the
ultimate authority of reason, is that it defines various problems in terms
of cause-and-effect relationship. The cause-and-effect relation-ship, or
the law of causation, is the foundation of rational thinking. This law
is honoured by the Qur'an and is also employed by it. The Qur'an speaks
on behalf of God, the Almighty, the Creator of the system of cause and
effect. Despite the fact that His Word transcends the limitations of causality,
the Qur'an is not oblivious of pointing out to the system of causality
operating in the universe; it views all phenomena and events as being subservient
to this system. The following verse supports this view: 

God changes not what is in a people, until they change what
is in themselves ... (13:11)

The Qur'an intends to say that, although all destinies depend on the Will
of God, He never imposes upon human beings such fate as is outside and
alien to their determination, will and action. The destinies of societies
also change according to their intrinsic system of functioning. God does
not extravagantly alter the destiny of a nation without any specific reason,
unless they themselves bring about a major change in their system of social
and moral values and their manner of performing their individual duties. 

The Qur'an urges Muslims to study the conditions and circumstances of
societies of the past and to take lesson from their history. It is evident
that if the destinies of races and nations were random, or dependent upon
accidents, or were prescribed from above, the advice to study and draw
a lesson would not have any sense. By laying emphasis on it, the Qur'an
intends to remind us that a uniform system of laws governs the destinies
of all the nations of the world. It also reminds us that if the conditions
of a society in which we live, are similar to the conditions prevalent
in a society of the past, the same fate awaits us too. Elsewhere, the Qur'an

How many a city We have destroyed in its evildoing, and
now it is fallen down upon its turrets. How many a ruined well, a tall
palace. What, have they not journeyed in the land so that they have hearts
to understand with, or ear to hear with ... ? (22:45-46) 

From this statement, we can infer that the affirmation of the law of causality
and the approval of the cause-and-effect relationship, imply the acceptance
of authority of reason. 

3. Rational Basis of Divine Commands

Another argument which proves that the Qur'an believes in the ultimate
authority of reason, is that the Qur'an always explains the rationale behind
its commands, laws and precepts. The scholars of usul al-din (the principles
of the Faith) maintain that the harms and benefits caused by human deeds
are among the reasons behind laws and commands. For example, while at one
place the Qur'an ordains the performance of prayers, in another place it
explains the philosophy of prayer: 

Indeed prayer forbids indecency and dishonour ... (29:45) 

It mentions the spiritual effects of prayer, and states how the prayer
can edify man. It explains that it is on account of this exaltation that
man can dissociate himself from indecencies. Elsewhere, after laying down
rules for observing the fast, the Qur'an explains the rationale for its

Prescribed for you is the Fast, even as it was prescribed
for those that were before you --haply you will be God-fearing. (2:183) 

Similarly, with respect to other commandments like those regarding zakat
(alms) and jihad, the Qur'an clarifies their necessity for individual,
as well as for society. In this way, the Qur'an, not withstanding the transcendental
nature of Divine commandments, clarifies fully their worldly and terrestrial
relevance, and asks men to cogitate upon their rationale until their meaning
becomes explicit, so that it may not be imagined that these laws are based
on a series of occult notions beyond the power of human comprehension. 


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