Power is the capacity or ability to direct or influence the behaviour of others or the course of events. Behaviour is either voluntary or involuntary and is over one’s self or another. The ability to exist, itself, is not something that one has power over (i.e., one does not bring themselves into existence, for example). So, despite our choice and will when it comes to the myriad voluntary acts that we perform, our initial point existence (and continued existence for that matter) which spawns the flow of all voluntary activity is only made possible by the One who made us. So, ultimately speaking, voluntary power finds its source in God.
Our life sustaining activity is largely involuntary. For example, the heart beats without one’s choice. Without a heartbeat one cannot live. Therefore, the involuntary act is the basis of life. The brain’s activity is also unconscious. So, the ability to consider the words in this paragraph and their import as they apply to a relationship between power as involuntary or voluntary is based in the non-volitional act of giving life. God gives life. Therefore, involuntary power, comes from Allah.
Planning is the process of forming a detailed proposal for doing or achieving something. A person may plan, for example, to attend a particular university. They may do so from early on while still in high school. They may have the requisite grades, inclination, and overall wherewithal to be able to attend. This person may even be accepted into the university as was aimed for. However, the plan did not take into consideration that he or she was not to live as long as the strategy presupposed he or she would require to in order to fully execute it. Therefore, in this, and in a limitless set of similar circumstances, power does not come from human planning.
A cause is a person or thing that gives rise to an action, phenomenon, or condition. This thing must first exist. Its existence, as mentioned above, is not a voluntary act. Therefore, this aspect of its existence is subsumed in the previous statement that all involuntary activity belongs to God. As such any involuntary power in causality belongs to God. Its involuntary activities depend on its origination which is, as mentioned, not within its power. So, voluntary activity depends on God’s decision to grant the cause’s existence. Therefore, voluntary causality finds its source in God. He creates the cause for whatsoever He pleases.
An effect that is a result or consequence of an action or other cause. The effect, then, is dependent on the cause. It’s voluntary or involuntary nature is of no real consequence when it is merely the outcome of a prior act. The ultimate cause, already stated, is God, and as created beings we are all effects. He creates us whenever He pleases as not every cause produces an effect unfailingly. Both cause and effect, then, are powerless. He creates them for whomsoever or whatsoever He pleases.
The Quran states in this regard:
Say, “O Allah , Owner of Sovereignty, You give sovereignty to whom You will and You take sovereignty away from whom You will. You honor whom You will and You humble whom You will. In Your hand is good. Indeed, You are over all things competent. (3:26)
In other words, God is the Source of Power. He creates its causal and effective impression as He likes. He acts without a necessary link between cause and effect for not everyone gets what they plan for. The power of His hands has the ability to produce what is ultimately of benefit to all of the effects. As He knows just what each thing needs, He is entirely capable to do so.
Muhammad Abdul Latif Finch converted to Islam at the age of 20 and has earned ijazas in Islamic Sciences including Quranic Sciences, Hadith, Maliki and Shafi’i Jurisprudence, Usul al-Fiqh, Seerah, Logic, and Arabic Grammar and Morphology under the tutelage of numerous scholars, including Shaykh Hamza Yusuf, Shaykh Salik bin Siddina, Imam Zaid Shakir, Shaykh Abdur Rahman Taahir, Qari Umar Bellahi, Shaykh Abdullah Ali, and Shaykh Yahya Rhodus.
Imam Muhammad Abdul Latif Finch co-founded the Lighthouse Mosque in Oakland, California where he served as the Imam till for 3 years until he resigned in 2012 to focus on his graduate studies. In addition, he was a teacher and a program developer for Deen Intensive Foundation, Seekers Guidance and has assisted Zaytuna College ‘s Summer Arabic Intensive program for three years in a row.
Imam Muhammad Abdul Latif Finch has recently attained a Master’s degree in Philosophy at the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology, a member of the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley.
Many thanks to Imam Muhammad Abdul Latif Finch for contributing to this blog.
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