The Quranic Teachings - Simple and Straightforward!

Teachings of the Quran explained in simple and concise manner.

Allah’s Law of Universal Causation

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The root of the word MASHIYYAT (مشیت) is sh-y-‘a. It is usually rendered as “wishing, willing or desiring”. Some scholastic theologians do not distinguish it from IRAADA though they are said to be originally different. In the original language, al-mashiyyatu signifies “the causing to be or exist”. IRAADA (اِرادہ) is more synonymous with TALAB (طلب)(i.e. willing or desiring) while Mashiyyat is more synonymous with EEJAAD (causing to be or exist). The dictionaries of classical Arabic render mashiyyat in the following meanings:

 -causing to be

 -causing to exist



 -making (something) happen, compelling or constraining

 -betaking or having recourse to

 -wishing, willing or desiring

 The root of the word SHAY (شئ) and Mashiyyat is same. A SHAY is:

whatever is caused to be, whether sensibly, as material substances or ideally, as sayings OR

anything that has been made to have a beings, whether an accident, an attribute, or a substance

From the above, it can be seen that IRADA denotes INTENTION (or conception of a thing in mind) while MASHIYYAT denotes CAUSATION. From time perspective, IRADA precedes MASHIYYAT. Before there is a SHAY, there is IRADA.

Although IRADA and MASHIYYAT can be used synonymously but there come some instances when a distinction between these two terms becomes very important and these must be rendered distinctly to avoid confusion.

The most important example of this is when these two terms are used in the Quran in relation to Allah, the Creator. At the stage of IRADA or intention or conception (before causation), Allah does whatever He intends. He defines rules, criteria and measures etc. He decrees how things ought to be. We do not know and cannot know why He defines rules, criteria and measures as they are and why he decrees things the way He decrees. He brings about whatever He intends {yaf’alo ma yureed} [2:253, 22:14, 11:107, 85:16]. He ordains or decrees whatever He intends [5:1]

At this stage, when He intends a thing, , He says unto it: Be! – and it is [16:40]. This is the stage when He decrees a matter or an affair [2:117, 3:47, 19:35, 40:68]. This has also been termed as His “AMR” [36:82]. At this stage, there is no CAUSATION and Allah brings about things without any CAUSE. This is the stage when LAW OF UNIVERSAL CAUSATION, itself, is decreed by Allah.

After the stage of “INTENTION” or “AMR” or “IRADA”, the stage of “CAUSATION” or “MASHIYYAT” comes into effect. At this stage, everything happens according to WHAT ALLAH’S LAW OF UNIVERSAL CAUSATION NECESSITATES.

So when the phrase “yaf’alo ma yureed” will be used for Allah, this will be rendered as “He does or brings about whatever He intends” and when the phrase “yaf’alo ma yshaa” will be used, it would be better rendered as, “He does or brings about what His Law of Causation necessitates“. There is a subtle but very important difference between the two, i.e. for MASHIYYAT, law of causation holds (and everything happens according to the law of cause and effect as defined by Allah) while for IRADA (when used in contrast to MASHIYYAT), Allah brings about things without any cause or pre-existing rule.

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