Many people today are searching for a way to escape from all the inhumanity, chaos, confusion, quarrels, conflicts, worries, selfishness and deceit we see in the world; they are looking for a way to establish a way of life that will bring them contentment, inner certainty and peace.
Some of these seekers believe they will find the happiness and peace of mind they are looking for in religions such as Hinduism or Buddhism. Many people have been influenced by these eastern religions because of their aura of mystery and mysticism, and because they make use of techniques such as meditation, and because of the unusual attitudes, dress, manner of speech and religious practices of those who follow them.
However, although religions like Hinduism and Buddhism — among the oldest we know of — give some good ethical advice, not everything they contain is true. Over the centuries, they have absorbed elements of the customs and traditions of the societies that have adopted them en masse, and have degenerated as a result of various legends and erroneous beliefs that have been added to them, so that the form in which we know them today is one tainted with superstition. It is for this reason that these religions espouse many beliefs and practices that conflict with reason and logic.
So in the following pages it is important to remember that when we talk about Buddhism and Hinduism we are really talking about the current extremely ancient and now corrupted and degenerate religions, and not about the original religions and their founders. We have been taught by Allah that every people has had messengers and prophets to guide them through revelation. Some elements in Buddhism similar to the values of the Qur’an may lead one to think that Buddha might have been one of these messengers, who preached the religion of truth. But this religion is extremely ancient and inevitably became corrupted after him, and lost its authenticity by mixing with the cultures and religions of the countries in which it originated and to which it spread, and thus turned into a superstitious religion.
The belief in karma is one such characteristic of these religions that are currently attracting interest in our countries. Although it encourages people to adopt certain positive moral qualities, the philosophy of karma also contains several erroneous and superstitious beliefs. It is not possible for these superstitions, which form the basis of the belief in karma, to become a way to freedom for humanity or to bring people genuine inner certainty and peace of mind. On the contrary, they cause even greater spiritual confusion. They cause people to adopt erroneous points of view and mistaken practices. It is these misleading beliefs and practices which are the main subject of this post.
Before considering the erroneous aspects of the belief in karma, it will be useful to remind ourselves of the following truth: the way to ensuring real happiness and peace of mind in this world is the religion of Islam and its source, the Qur’an which our Lord, Allah, the One and Only Lord of the universe, chose for humanity in order to restore the truths previously revealed to prophets and messengers among all peoples on Earth but forgotten and corrupted to some extent almost everywhere. As Allah has told us, the Qur’an and the Sunnah are the only things capable of rescuing humanity from darkness and bringing us into the light; the Qur’an is the only book capable of being humanity’s means of liberation. Allah explains this truth in the following words in the Qur’an, which are addressed to whoever follows one of the religions which existed before Islam:
People of the Book! Our Messenger has come to you, making clear to you much of the Book that you have kept concealed, and passing over a lot. A Light has come to you from Allah and a Clear Book. By it, Allah guides those who follow what pleases Him to the ways of Peace. He will bring them from the darkness to the light by His permission, and guide them to a straight path. [Surat al-Ma’idah: 15-16]
Alif Lam Ra. This is a Book We have sent down to you so that you can bring mankind from the darkness to the light, by the permission of their Lord, to the Path of the Almighty, the Praiseworthy. [Surah Ibrahim: 1]
In this article we shall deal both with those aspects of the belief in karma that concern good ethical practices that accord with the teachings of the Qur’an, and with those erroneous aspects that accord neither with the Qu’ran, nor with human reason and nor with human conscience.
We should remember, however, that the belief in karma, in the perverted form in which we have it with the inclusion of the concept of reincarnation, is one that is not supported by any evidence whatsoever and that it is not contained in any divinely revealed book; it is apparently a philosophy consisting merely of ideas that people have formulated. A philosophy of this kind could easily be put together by any person. In fact, an ordinary person could formulate several of these philosophies. Moreover, one would not need to possess any knowledge or spend any time in order to do this; a short time would be quite enough to formulate a whole philosophical system of “beliefs unsupported by evidence”. That is because belief in karma does not make claims to any basis in rationality.
Would it make sense to attempt to implement the rules of an irrational philosophy that lacks proper evidence to support it? In this article, using evidence to support our arguments, we will attempt to show how illogical it is to believe in karma or to try to live in accordance with it or with any other similar philosophy.
WHAT IS THE CONCEPT OF ‘KARMA’?
Belief in karma is an important element in superstitious eastern religions such as decadent Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. Karma is a Sanskrit word meaning “action” or “movement”. In Indian religions, karma is conceived of as “the law of cause and effect”. According to those who believe in karma, in the future people will experience the consequences of whatever they have done in the past. Good comes from good, and evil from evil. It therefore follows that the situation they are in today is the result of the past.
According to this belief, however, what is meant by “the past” is the life that a person lived before their current life; what is meant by “the future” is their next life back on this Earth that will begin (or so it is claimed), after death. The reason for this is that the belief in karma is based on a belief in reincarnation—the belief that after death, people return to the world in a different body, and that this process of death and rebirth is continuous. It therefore follows that someone who believes in karma believes that in the so-called life they will have after death, whatever successes they have, whatever position in society they occupy and whatever way of life they enjoy will have been determined by how they behaved in their previous life and on their degree of morality in that life.
For example, someone who is rich and successful in this life is being rewarded with wealth for having been a good person in their previous life. In the same way (according to the concept of karma), someone who is poor, crippled or a failure in this life will have done bad things in their previous life and is now reaping the reward for those actions. In fact, it is claimed by those who subscribe to this superstitious belief system that people may take the form of plants or animals in their successive lives, depending on the nature of the evil they have done. Later in this book we will demonstrate in detail that belief in reincarnation is mere superstition.
At first sight it might appear that a belief in karma would provide a strong incentive for people to adopt attractive moral qualities, since they will want to enjoy the best possible conditions when they are reborn into this world. However, the belief in reincarnation and other superstitious concepts fostered by religions which espouse karma (such as Hinduism and decadent Buddhism), are contrary to human logic, human nature and the human conscience. Thus, the laws and practices of these religions cannot possibly endow people with good moral qualities; they cannot bring individuals peace of mind, inner confidence or happiness. The poor living conditions and the injustice prevalent in those countries where these religions are common or where they have, in fact, been adopted as the national religion, quite clearly demonstrate the truth of this.
One of the main reasons why some of the teachings of Hinduism and Buddhism attract attention is the interest shown in them by certain world-famous shaitani film stars and musicians. Some of these famous people have their photographs taken wearing Buddhist robes in Tibet, or they claim to have found peace of mind in meditation. Another thing that makes people interested in these religions is the aura of mystery and mysticism with which they are associated in the mind of the public.
But the great majority of people who are influenced by this mystical aura and who make a belief in karma the foundation for their way of life do not carry out any detailed investigation into these philosophies and do not think about them carefully enough. This is because they are too focused on the positive spiritual and moral aspects to see that these religions in their decadent conditions contain many beliefs that are inconsistent, illogical, and contrary to human nature and conscience, or perhaps they simply prefer to ignore these anomalies altogether.
However, anyone who wishes to escape from the difficult and depressing life they are leading and who sincerely wants all humanity to be able to live a life full of happiness and inner tranquility ought to make an effort to find the right way. Therefore, they should carefully investigate the philosophies by which they are influenced and should be inwardly certain which path is the most correct, the wisest and the one that best accords with their conscience.
The purpose of this article is to show people whose quest for the truth has led them to adopt the positive messages of the karma philosophy, that it is not the best path since it is derived from a religion based on myths, superstitions and practices that defy reason. The only way for people to live happily and enjoy peace of mind in this life and in their eternal life after death is for them to have faith in Allah and to act in accordance with the dictates of the Qur’an. The Qur’an is the book of truth revealed by our Lord, Allah, for the sake of thinking people; it is our only guide to salvation, bringing people from darkness into light. The only true way is to put into practice the ethics of the Qur’an and to fear Allah, the Creator of the heavens and the earth, Who keeps people from wickedness, discord, cruelty, oppression, intolerance, despair, pessimism, unhappiness and every kind of reprehensible act, and to live in accord with the Sunnah of His Noble Messenger, Muhammad, may Allah bless him and grant him peace.
REINCARNATION ACCORDING TO THE IDEA OF KARMA
Reincarnation — the concept that people come back to the world in another body after their death — follows from the belief in karma and is absolutely fundamental to Indian religions. The relationship between karma and reincarnation is explained in a book entitled Dinler Tarihi (The History of Religions) in the following words:
Reincarnation is the belief that the soul passes from one body into another after death. Reincarnation is part and parcel of the philosophy of karma. According to this belief, a soul is either high born or low born in terms of its degree of development. A person may be reborn as a plant, an animal, a human being or a god, depending on his or her actions. (Thus, people are the architects of their own fates.) This rebirth takes place as a result of cause and effect. By means of reincarnation, it is possible for us to be given the moral and spiritual reward of our actions. Happiness in one’s next life depends on right action. Every individual is responsible for his or her own situation. There is no need to fear death. Through continuous rebirths, people achieve their desires and enjoy continual satisfaction. They live in the god Brahma. It is claimed that this belief endows the native of India with a powerful optimism.
As we see here, the belief in karma does not imply a belief in the afterlife; in place of this, there is a belief in rebirth into this world with the same soul but in a new body. This, however, is an erroneous and superstitious belief that conflicts with what Allah tells us in the Qur’an.
Another erroneous aspect of this philosophy that calls for attention is the belief that people can be reborn as gods. This is the most superstitious and unrealistic claim ever made in the history of mankind. Such a claim is polytheism. It is an open denial of Allah’s indivisibility. It is obvious that no one can be a god; there is only one God and He has not given birth to anything, nor was He given birth to. Allah is the Lord, the Creator, the Protector and the Sole God of the whole universe and of all living things. He is Unique and has no equal. Our Lord, Allah, tells us this in the Qur’an:
Say: “He is Allah, Absolute Oneness, Allah, the Everlasting Sustainer of all. He has not given birth and was not born. And no one is comparable to Him”. [Surat al-Ikhlas: 1-4]
Those who hold any belief other than this have departed from the right road and it will be to their detriment in the life after death.
There is no reincarnation; death and resurrection happen only once
Reincarnation is a superstitious belief unconfirmed by any divine source. However, there are people all over the world, apart from those who follow Indian religions, who believe in reincarnation, or rather would wish that the idea of reincarnation were true. The reason for this is that people who do not believe in religion, who deny the existence of an afterlife and are afraid of either ceasing to exist or of living in Hell forever after their death, see reincarnation as a way of overcoming these fears. Belief in reincarnation necessitates believing that one should not be afraid of death; it misleads one into thinking that he will achieve his desires by means of rebirth.
However, the Qur’an tells us that death and resurrection occur only once. Every one of us has only one life to live in this world; after that life, we die, and after death we are brought to life again. Then we stay in the Garden or in the Fire for eternity, depending on what we have done in this world and whether we have worshipped Allah without associating partners to Him. In other words, we only live once in this world, and then we have an afterlife, which goes on forever. The Qur’an tells us quite clearly that we will not be able to return to this world after death:
There is a ban on any city We have destroyed; they will not return. [Surat al-Anbiya: 95]
When death comes to one of them, he says, “My Lord, send me back again. so that perhaps I may act rightly regarding the things I failed to do!” No indeed! It is just words he utters. Before them there is an interspace until the Day they are raised up. [Surat al-Muminun: 99-100]
As we see from these verses, when some people meet death, they cherish the hope that they will be brought back to life again. However, at that moment it will be explained to them that this is not possible. In another verse, Allah says this about our death and rising from the dead:
How can you reject Allah, when you were dead and then He gave you life, then He will make you die and then give you life again, then you will be returned to Him? [Surat al-Baqarah: 28]
As we see from this verse, at the very beginning we are dead: we have no existence whatsoever. Then Allah gives us life and human form from this state. Some time after this when our lives are over, our bodies decay and disintegrate into earth once again. This is our second transition to the state of being dead. All that remains is for us to rise again. This happens in the next world. We will all rise again in the afterlife; then we will understand that we can never return again to the world, and we will account for everything we did in this world.
In other verses, it is explained to us that after we have come into this world, we will only face one single death:
They will not taste any death there — except for the first one. He will safeguard them from the punishment of the Blazing Fire. A favour from your Lord. That is the Great Victory. [Surat ad-Dukhan: 56-57]
The above verses state clearly and unequivocally that we only die once. However much one may wish to adopt superstitious beliefs such as a belief in reincarnation in order to overcome the fear of death and the afterlife and so console himself, the reality is that we will never come back to this world again after our death. Everyone will die just once, and after death, in accordance with Allah’s will, we will begin our everlasting life in the next world. Allah will reward a person in the Garden or punish him in the Fire for his living a life in harmony with His unity or his covering over that truth in this world. Allah is the source of eternal justice. He is infinitely Merciful and Kind, and gives humans the true and just reward for their belief or disbelief and actions.
Seeking consolation in superstitious beliefs because of the fear of death and the fear of going to the Fire will undoubtedly bring disaster. Any intelligent and conscientious person, if they are afraid of these things, will turn to Allah with a sincere heart in the hope of going to the Garden and escaping the torments of the Fire, and they will obey the Qur’an, our sole guide to salvation, and live by the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace.
THE AFTERLIFE ACCORDING TO THE IDEA OF KARMA
There is no belief in an afterlife in religions that espouse the concept of reincarnation, except sometimes as an intermediate stage between lives in this world. As we have explained in the preceding chapters, this mistaken idea holds that people return to the world after each death, and that this process of transformation is continuous.
According to decadent Hinduism, every time people are reborn, they are born into one of the different castes according to what good or evil they did in their previous lives. It is well known that the caste system is still prevalent in Indian society; whatever people may do in this world, they cannot change their caste. If you are born as an untouchable, you will inevitably die as an untouchable; if you are born a worker, you will die a worker. It is believed that it is what people have done in their previous lives that determines into what caste they will be born. Therefore, someone who is an untouchable in this life will, according to the idea of karma, be reborn into a higher caste in their next life if their actions are good.
Again, according to this erroneous belief, if one has “good karma”, he will be born into a higher caste each time he comes into this world, and finally he will be born into the highest caste as a Brahmin – priest. It is believed that if one does good deeds during his life as a Brahmin, he will not come back to this world again. For someone of this kind, the “wheel of life” is completed and he has “attained Nirvana”.
According to this belief, ”attaining Nirvana” means that one has thrown off all worldly desires and returned to the soul of Brahman who is described as the “Soul of the World”, with whom one is united. In Indian religions, this is thought to be the greatest happiness a soul can achieve. Thus, according to this incorrect belief, even though a person may do good every time he is born into this world, this will never result in his having an afterlife; he will return to and become united with the soul of Brahman.
In some Buddhist sources, we are given the following information about life after death:
Whether one is reborn in Heaven or in one of the various levels of Hell, the forms of existence in these places are transitory, as they are on earth, and are not eternal. As in Hinduism, the period of time during which the individual remains in these places depends on the amount of good and evil they have done while on earth. When the proscribed time has been completed, they will return to earth again. Heaven and Hell are no more than temporary states of existence in which the acts of the individual while on earth receive their reward.
Thus we see that in karma concept there is a belief of a kind in a Heaven and Hell in which people receive the reward of their actions. However, because this belief is not derived from a religion of truth, it contains many inconsistencies and logical fallacies. First of all, it is claimed that Heaven and Hell are transitory, not eternal — this is not what Islam tell us.
The most illogical aspect of this idea is the belief that this whole system works by itself. In other words, the existence of a Creator Who created the life of this world, Who created the Garden and the Fire, and Who rewards or punishes people for their actions, is denied. This is an extremely illogical and totally unacceptable proposition. In the absence of a creative power that governs justly, a supreme power capable of creating Heaven and Hell, any claim that people will go to Heaven or to Hell is unacceptable to our intelligence and our conscience.
Moreover, apart from these beliefs, the concept of karma provides no explanation whatsoever as to how Heaven and Hell came into being without a Creator. These claims are merely erroneous beliefs, maintained as a tradition and as a superstition.
The Afterlife as described in the Qur’an
As we have seen above, in religions that accept the idea of karma there is either no belief in an afterlife, or there is mention of the next world as a place where one stays temporarily. Whereas, Allah tells us in the Qur’an that when people have lived on earth for a short time they will stay in their “real home”, the next world, for ever. According to the Qur’an’s teaching, it is this world that is transitory. Everyone, when they have lived in this world for some 50 or 60 years on average, will receive their reward in Heaven or in Hell for all they have done during their time on earth. This is explained in the Qur’an as follows:
The life of this world is nothing but a game and a diversion. The abode of the hereafter — that is truly Life if they only knew. [Surat al-Ankabut: 64]
The life of this world is nothing but a game and a diversion. The hereafter is better for those who do their duty. So will you not use your intellect? [Surat al-An’am: 32]
Belief in the Afterlife is one of the basic tenets of Islam. Therefore it is not possible for a Muslim to accept the validity of any belief that denies the existence of an Afterlife, or to be guided by such a belief. Those who adopt a superstitious belief of this kind on the basis of hearsay, as an affectation or to follow the latest fad, need to keep this in mind. Allah describes the fate of those who deny the existence of the next world in the following words:
As for those who denied Our Signs and the encounter of the hereafter, their actions will come to nothing. Will they be repaid except for what they did? [Surat al-A’raf: 147]
As we see in this verse, the actions of those who reject Allah’s words and deny the existence of the next world will not receive a pleasant reward. Even though such people’s actions are good, if they are not done in order to win Allah’s blessing and His mercy and to attain the Garden, but rather in order to have a better life in the next incarnation, they will not find favour with Allah, unless Allah wishes that it should be so.
Life in the Garden or in the Fire will go on for ever
Contrary to what those who believe in karma say, the Garden and the Fire are not places in which we stay temporarily. Both will go on for ever. Also, just as those who go to the Garden will never leave it, so will some of those who go to the Fire stay there for ever. There is a superstitious belief not only among those who accept the idea of karma but also among the general public that Hell is only temporary, and that when people have lived through the tortures of Hell and so been punished, they will go to Heaven. Allah explains this in the following words:
They say, “The Fire will only touch us for a number of days”. Say, “Have you made a contract with Allah—then Allah will not break His contract—or are you rather saying about Allah what you do not know?” No indeed! Those who accumulate bad actions and are surrounded by their mistakes, such people are the Companions of the Fire, remaining in it timelessly, for ever; whereas those who believe and do right actions, such people are the Companions of the Garden, remaining in it timelessly, for ever. [Surat al-Baqara: 80-82]
Those who fear that death will bring a cessation of existence will cry out for destruction when they are in Hell
As we have already stated, one of the most important reasons why some people believe in reincarnation is that they are afraid of ceasing to exist when they die. Since they are frightened by the thought of this, people who are unbelievers or have very little religious faith either avoid thinking about death altogether or they try to console themselves by believing in superstitions such as reincarnation.
However, people do not cease to exist when they die. It is only our bodies that die. The spirit will live forever. However, this new life will be in the next world, not (as the reincarnation idea would have us believe) in this one. Everyone will be rewarded for what they have done during their earthly life; their reward will be either a life of happiness and peace in the Garden, in which there are infinite blessings and countless good things, or a life in the fires of Hell, where there is unbearable suffering and pain. The reward that those who deny Allah will receive is the eternal torture of the Fire; they will wish a thousand times over that they could die and cease to exist. Nevertheless, they will receive the true and just reward for having denied Allah during their time on earth. Allah describes the condition of the inhabitants of the Fire in the following verses:
But as for him who is given his Book behind his back, he will cry out for destruction but will be roasted in a Searing Blaze. He used to be joyful in his family. He thought that he was never going to return. [Surat al-Inshiqaq: 10-14]
When they are flung into a narrow place in it, shackled together in chains, they will cry out there for destruction. “Do not cry out today for just one destruction, cry out for many destructions!” [Surat al-Furqan: 13-14]
The tortures of Hell are so violent and so painful that those who fear death and an end to their existence, and turn their faces away from Allah’s religion, seeking consolation in superstitious beliefs, and those who deny the existence of Allah and the next world, will instead wish for that very end to their existence in preference to the tortures of the Fire.
Everyone who has learnt from the Qur’an of the existence of the next world, of the eternal agonies of the Fire and of the extraordinary beauty of the eternal life in the Garden should consider these things carefully and sincerely. Only someone lacking in intelligence and lacking a conscience would admit the possibility that the pains of Hell really existed and still refuse to reflect on the implications. Faced with the possibility of such a terrible thing as living in the Fire for ever, it would be the height of stupidity to cast this awareness aside in one’s determination to “get the best out of life” during the short time we have on Earth.
Instead, we should make a serious effort to avoid bringing this torture upon ourselves, and we should meticulously follow the teachings that Allah gives us in the Qur’an, and make the best possible use of the time given to us in this world in view of the reality of the afterlife. We will understand everything fully only at the very moment when death comes to us. This is what the Qur’an tells us about what is said at that moment by those who have tried to avoid thinking about these things because of their fear of death:
The throes of death come revealing the truth. That is what you were trying to evade! The Trumpet will be blown. That is the Day of the Threat. Every self will come together with a driver and a witness: “You were heedless of this so We have stripped you of your covering and today your sight is sharp”. His inseparable comrade will say, “This is what I have ready for you”. Hurl into Hell every obdurate disbeliever, impeder of good, doubt-causing aggressor, who set up another god together with Allah. Hurl him into the terrible punishment. [Surah Qaf: 19-26]
THE LIFE OF THIS WORLD ACCORDING TO THE IDEA OF KARMA
As we have said before, according to the concept of karma those who do good in their lives on earth will be rewarded with good in the life to come, while those who do evil will be rewarded with evil. Thus the concept of karma tells us that our earthly life is both the result of our previous life and the cause of our next life on Earth. At first sight, it might appear that the expectation of having another life after death would lead those who believe in karma to perform good actions — that is, it might seem that people who believe in the idea of karma will try to behave well in order to deserve good things in their next life, and will try to avoid evil.
However, karma does not provide a powerful enough motivation for someone who has not made a sincere decision to be virtuous, because people who accept the idea of karma believe that the wheel of birth and death is endless and that they will inevitably be reborn after every death. They think they will have an infinite number of chances. So when they do evil, they may think: “Even if I have a worse life next time, I can make up for it in the life after that”. Thus we see that a philosophy based on such unsound foundations is incapable of keeping people from doing evil. Attachment to the life of this world is a weakness most people have. This attachment is the main reason why they come to accept a belief such as reincarnation – they absolutely refuse to give up their attachment to the earthly life. It is only by understanding the true nature of the life of this world that we can bring about radical changes in our behaviour and live in an ethical way.
Anyone who knows the real nature of the life of this world knows that we are created in order to serve our Lord, Allah, He Who created us and the whole universe and Who protects and cares for us. We also know that we are responsible to Allah for everything we do, say or think; we know that after death we will give account to Him. The Qur’an tells us how we were created in order to serve Allah as His servants in the following verses:
Mankind! Worship your Lord, Who created you and those before you, so that hopefully you may do your duty. [Surat al-Baqara: 21]
That is Allah, your Lord. There is no god but Him, the Creator of everything. So worship Him. He is responsible for everything. [Surat al-An’am: 102]
Those who confess Allah’s power, the faithful who fear Allah’s wrath, serve only Allah and obey His Will unconditionally; they avoid doing evil and perform actions that will be pleasing to Him. In the following verses, the Qur’an describes how the faithful fear Allah and what a wonderful reward they receive as a result:
Mankind! Heed your Lord and fear a day when no father will be able to atone for his son, or son for his father, in any way. Allah’s promise is true. So do not let the life of this world delude you and do not let the Deluder delude you concerning Allah. [Surah Luqman: 33]
Say, “Shall I tell you of something better than that? Those who so their duty will have Gardens with their Lord, with rivers flowing under them, remaining in them timelessly, for ever, and purified wives, and the Pleasure of Allah. Allah sees His servants…” [Surah Aal ‘Imran: 15]
The believers who fear Allah are determined to fulfill their duty to serve Him throughout their lives, and to pray and perform good actions in order to avoid eternal suffering. In several verses of the Qur’an, Allah urges us to be constant in our prayers, in serving Him, in performing good deeds and in good character:
Everything in the heavens and earth belongs to Him, and the religion belongs to Him, firmly and for ever. So why do you fear anyone other than Allah? [Surat an-Nahl: 52]
Wealth and sons are the embellishment of the life of this world. But, in your Lord’s sight, right actions which are lasting bring a better reward and are a better basis for hope. [Surat al-Kahf: 46]
Allah augments those who are guided by giving them greater guidance. In your Lord’s sight, right actions which are lasting are better both in reward and end result. [Surah Maryam: 76]
And (the believers) are constant in their prayers. [Surat al-Ma’arij: 23]
To sum up, the only way for us to achieve a real superiority of moral character and to avoid compromise, even where it seems to conflict with our interests, is to have strong love for Allah and strong devotion to Him, to fear Him and to serve Him as His servants. The idea of karma does advise people to adopt certain good qualities. However, although everyone may have good qualities of their own, they are limited in number, are not permanent and depend on certain conditions. In order for them to be permanent, we must in all circumstances have faith in Allah and do everything that we do only in order to obtain His grace; we must know Him, acknowledge Him and fear Him.
This world is a place where we are tested
In the Qur’an, we are told that we will have only one life in this world, and that the purpose of this life is to test us in preparation for our eternal life. That is to say, once we have experienced death there is no chance for us to return to this world and make up for the mistakes we have made. Allah tells us what the purpose of our life in this world is in this verse:
He Who created death and life to test which of you is best in action. He is the Almighty, the Ever-Forgiving. [Surat al-Mulk: 2]
For each one of us, this world is a place where we are tested by the events Allah makes happen to us, in order to see whether we will respond in a way that is pleasing to Him. In the Qur’an, Allah tells us that people will not be left to say, “We believe”, and then not tested. (Surat al-Ankabut: 2)
Nothing that happens to us throughout our lives is a coincidence. Every event in our lives down to the finest detail of our fate has been created by Allah as a means of testing us. For instance, the fact that someone is rich or famous does not mean that they are receiving the reward for good deeds they have done in their previous life (as the idea of karma maintains). Rather, Allah is testing them by means of wealth and fame. The important thing is whether or not they will become spoilt as a result of their good fortune, whether or not they will be ungrateful and whether or not they will thank Allah. Similarly, it is erroneous to believe that someone who is poor and has a difficult life is suffering the consequences of bad things done in their previous life. Allah is testing them by means of trouble and poverty. One possible reason for their having a life of this kind is that Allah is seeing whether they will continue to trust in Him in the face of difficulties, and whether they will show strength of character.
Anyone who knows that all the good things in the world are gifts from Allah, who gives thanks to Allah for them and who lives by the limits set by Allah, using these good things in a way that will be pleasing to Him as set out in the Qur’an and the Sunnah, may expect to be well rewarded in the life to come. However, anyone who regards Allah’s gifts as their own and forgets that they are gifts from Him, and who becomes spoilt and proud because of these gifts and departs from the correct path to do things that are prohibited, will meet with deserved punishment in the next world. In the afterlife, everyone will receive the just recompense for their belief, trust in and acceptance of Allah and His Messengers, or their rejection of Him and of them, and for the good and bad things they have done. Allah tells us in the following verse that everything we own and for which we are responsible is only to test us:
Know that your wealth and children are a trial and that there is an immense reward with Allah. [Surat al-Anfal: 28]
Some people are tested by means of worries and difficulties in this world. The degree of the difficulties to which we are subjected, and the form these take, are entirely in Allah’s hands. People who are tested in this way should in all circumstances have faith in Allah, think that every worry and difficulty will have a fortunate outcome for them, have patience and be content with what Allah sends to them. These things are expressed in the following words in the Qur’an:
We will test you with a certain amount of fear and hunger and loss of wealth and life and fruits. But give good news to the steadfast: Those who, when disaster strikes them, say, “We belong to Allah and to Him we will return”. Those are the people who will have blessings and mercy from their Lord; they are the ones who are guided. [Surat al-Baqara: 155-157]
You will be tested in your wealth and in yourselves and you will hear many abusive words from those given the Book before you and from those who are idolators. But if you are steadfast and guard against evil, that is the most resolute course to take. [Surah Aal ‘Imran: 186]
The life of this world is nothing but a game and a diversion. The hereafter is better for those who guard against evil. So will you not use your intellect? [Surat al-An’aam: 32]
Those who think about the real nature of our life in this world and understand them, and who live their lives in accordance with this knowledge, will enjoy great happiness and peace of mind in the next world, where their real life begins. This is what Allah promises to those who have faith in Him. And our Lord, Allah, the source of boundless blessings, He Whose kindness and mercy are infinite, never fails to fulfil His promises.
CONCEPTS OF FATE IN THE KARMA BELIEF SYSTEM
The karmic philosophy’s concept of destiny is a highly erroneous one. According to the concept of karma, a person’s destiny is in his own hands. This concept is described in the following words in the book Dinler Tarihi (A History of Religions):
Karma comprises the results of everything we have done of our own free will. Whatever is done brings unavoidable results for the doer. Everyone inherits karma of this kind. Other kinds of karma come after this. This is not determinism: everyone is free to do good or evil within the bounds of their own karma. One’s personal karma does not actually force one to do anything. According to the Buddhist viewpoint, it is our will, not our actions, that creates new karma. We will see the results of our karma in this life, or in our next incarnation, or in the incarnation after that.
As we see from the above description, in the karmic philosophy there is no place for trust in one’s destiny. Instead, there is a belief in the false idea that people create their own fates. For instance, in karmic philosophy, the caste into which a person in India is born and the kind of life they have depend completely on what attitude they had in their previous life. In other words, it was we ourselves who, in our previous lives, determined the fate we would have in our present lives.
However, it is Allah Who, before we are born, decides a person’s destiny, Who prepares everything that happens to us, and Who determines what these events will be and what kind of life we will have. The Qur’an tells us that everything that happens to us is the will of Allah, and has been decided by Him before we experience it:
Nothing occurs, either in the earth or in yourselves,without its being in a Book before We make it happen. That is something easy for Allah. [Surat al-Hadid: 22]
The Qur’anic concept of Fate
The idea of fate implies that Allah creates all events, both past and future, in a single moment. This, in turn, means that from Allah’s point of view, everything that has happened since the universe was created and everything that will happen until the Last Judgement, has already been experienced and has now finished. Things that have not yet happened, and that are due to take place in what we call “the future”, have in fact already taken place in a single moment that included the whole of our past. Allah is separate from time and is in no way dependent on it; it is we who are dependent on time. Thus, in order for us to witness events created instantaneously by Allah, we need to experience the passage of time.
For example, time will be needed for us to read this book. We need time to turn each individual page. Allah, however, already knew every page of this book before it was written, even before the ancestors of the people who produced it were born; Allah has known this book since before time. By way of illustration, let us imagine someone walking along a road. This person needs time to walk to the far end of the road. However, if we were to look at an aerial photograph of the road and the person beginning to walk along it, we would be able to see both the person setting out on his journey and the far end of the road all at once. We would not need the passage of time in the same way as the walker.
It is essential to understand this. For although we think that it is we ourselves who do everything we do throughout our lives by means of our own free will, in fact we are only following the course set out for us by Allah. Our lives are like a film recorded on video. However, we cannot wind the tape on to see what happens at the end, whereas the whole of the film was known to Allah in a single instant. In any case, it is Allah Who has decided on and created every detail of this film. Just as we can see the whole of a ruler from end to end at one time, so can Allah see the period of time during which we are alive in its entirety, as if it were a single moment. We, on the other hand, cannot experience events until the time comes for us to do so; it is only then that we perceive the fate Allah has created for us.
Every moment in the life of every person who has ever lived and who will ever live in this world, from the time when they are a foetus in the womb until the day they die, has been predetermined by Allah and is already known to Him. No detail is too insignificant, be it a child’s first day at school or the hour in middle age in which his first white hair appears. This is the meaning of fate for everyone on earth.
Everything that has happened in the past and whatever will happen in the future is already a reality with Allah. The fact that all future events are lying in wait for us to experience them, illustrates an important point: everyone, whether they like it or not, has already submitted unconditionally to the destiny Allah has planned for them. Just as we cannot change our past, so we cannot change our future. This is because the future, just like the past, is already complete. Everything that is going to happen to us—when and where we will eat and what that food will be, who we will talk to, how much we will earn, what illnesses we will get, and when, where and how we will eventually die—all these things have already been decided on and cannot be altered as they already exist in Allah’s knowledge as completed events. All that remains is for us to acquire knowledge of them through our own experience.
In these circumstances, it is absolutely unnecessary for us to feel sorrow over the things that happen to us, to worry and to feel concerned or fearful because of them; neither is it wise for us to do so. Doing this would be like trying to influence the course of events in a film we are watching because we fear for the characters in it.
For instance, when a person has an accident on the way to a meeting or an interview that he thinks could change the course of his life and misses the meeting as a result, he may suddenly despair and see what has befallen him as a misfortune. He may even say to himself, “I wish I had left home a minute later, then none of this would have happened”. But all these complaints are in vain: everything—the exact second at which he will leave the house that day, the route he will take, the means of transport he will use to get there, which other vehicle will be involved in the accident and who will be in it—has already been decided on by Allah before he is born.
Allah has shaped the course of every event in our lives in such a way that it will have the best possible outcome for us if we have trust in Allah and show gratitude to Him. We may not always understand the reason for these events or the beneficial purpose for which Allah created them, or we may only come to understand these things subsequently. However, if we can come to know Allah, acknowledge His infinite power and submit to His will, we will be absolutely sure that every event that has been arranged by Him is what is best and most appropriate for us. There should be no doubt that everything that happens has been set up by Allah. Although we may experience occurrences in our lives as new, Allah has already created every event together with all of their minutest ramifications. Hence, He knows them with an infinitely greater clarity than our subsequent experience of them can ever bring us.
In conclusion, people who see the things that happen to them as misfortunes and who become angry, fearful and sorrowful as a result are only oppressing themselves, allowing themselves to be worn down by things they have no power to change and as a result they experience tension. Whereas if we realise that we are only following the course set out for us as our destiny, we feel relaxed and calm in this knowledge—because Allah creates our destinies, and Allah creates everything in such a way that it will have the best and most positive outcome for us if we are true to Him. Those who know and love Allah, and trust in His justice and mercy, experience endless joy in the knowledge that nothing can happen that has not been created by Him and willed by Him in His endless wisdom. The faithful believe that only good can come to them from Allah, as we are told in the following verse:
When those who guard against evil are asked, “What has your Lord sent down?” their reply is, “Good!” There is good in this world for those who do good, and the abode of the hereafter is even better. How wonderful is the abode of those who guard against evil. [Surat an-Nahl: 30]
And in the next verses, we are told of the reward that will be received after their lives on earth by those who believe that everything that comes to them from Allah has a good purpose:
Gardens which they enter, with rivers flowing under them, where they have whatever they desire. That is how Allah repays those who guard against evil: those the angels take in a virtuous state. They say, ”Peace be upon you! Enter the Garden for what you did”. (Surat an-Nahl: 31-32)
Taking Precautions does not alter our Destiny
Many people pretend not to understand the realities of the decree, saying to themselves: “If everything is decreed, we need not do anything about it”, and in this way they try to prove to themselves that it is impossible to believe in one’s destiny. This is a very shallow way of thinking. The reason people say this is that it is part of their destiny to do so, although they do not realise this. Allah has predetermined everyone’s fate; with Allah, everyone’s life has already been lived through right to the end.
Allah, however, as part of the test He has created for us in this life on Earth, has made it possible for us to experience everything we do as being done by our own will. For example, if someone is writing a book, the truth is that with Allah that book was already written and completed before the writer was born and it had already been read by those destined to read it. Even while the author is deciding what he is going to write, everything about the book—every line, the beginning of each paragraph, the headings, the colours and pictures used on the cover, the number of pages, the position of each punctuation mark and every other detail—is already present with Allah.
Let us suppose, however, that the author were to give up writing it, saying to himself, “Since this book has already been written, if it is fated that it should be so, I need not do anything at all”. This would not make sense since the “if” in his argument betrays the fact that he does not actually know at that point whether the book is destined to be completed or not. This would be as ignorant as hearing someone knock at the door and failing to get up and open it, thinking, “If the person outside is fated to come in, they will come in anyway”. Allah alone knows what is fated, we do not.
The truth of the matter is that everything we experience have been decreed by Allah as part of our destiny. In the following verses of the Qur’an, Allah tells us that it is He Who is the Doer:
You did not kill them; it was Allah Who killed them; and you did not throw, when you threw; it was Allah Who threw: so He might test the believers with this excellent trial from Him. Allah is All-Hearing, All-Knowing. [Surat al-Anfal: 17]
Allah created both you and what you do. [Surat as-Saffat: 96]
If one pretends not to understand these things as they are explained in the Qur’an, or if one pretends ignorance in order to “test” fate and refuses to open the door, or refuse to write the book, he is still experiencing something he was fated to live through. By the same token, if we fail to take the medicine we need to take when we are ill, saying to ourselves, “If I am fated to recover, I will recover”, and thus neglect our health, it is our destiny to act in this unintelligent way. Similarly, if we deny the existence of fate, it is because it is part of our fate to do so.
On the other hand, anyone who is intelligent and conscientious will know that what they are experiencing is part of Allah’s test for them, and that they are responsible for their actions even though the efforts they are making and the results they will obtain have already taken place and are already complete with Allah. In this connection the Qur’an gives the example of Ya’qub’s advice to his sons:
He said, “My sons! You must not enter through a single gate. Go in through different gates. But I cannot save you from Allah at all, for judgement comes from no one but Allah. In Him I put my trust, and let all those who put their trust, put it in Him alone”. [Surah Yusuf: 67]
As we see in this verse, Ya’qub advises his sons to take precautions for their safety, but immediately after this he says that taking these precautions will not prevent the destiny that Allah has willed from being fulfilled. Actually, Ya’qub’s words to his sons, his sons’ acting in accordance with his advice and everything that will happen to them as a result are nothing more than the unfolding in time of what is present with Allah beyond time.
In the next verse, it is explained to us that these precautions cannot change Allah’s will:
But when they entered as their father said, it did not save them from Allah at all, yet a need in Ya‘qub’s soul was satisfied. He had knowledge which We had taught him, but most of mankind simply do not know. [Surah Yusuf: 68]
This verse tells us that we have no power to prevent anything from happening that Allah sends us. All we can do is pray to Him and seek His blessing, so that He will use our precautions as a means of carrying out His will and bring us the best possible outcome.
To sum up, the difference between someone who has submitted to Allah and the destiny decreed by Him, and someone who is unable to perceive the reality of the situation is that the former is aware that whatever we do is the result of Allah’s will however much we may experience it as our own independent initiative; while on the other hand, the person who is not aware of this mistakenly believes that our actions originate in our own wisdom and our own abilities. In fact, “Allah’s command is a pre-ordained decree”. [Surat al-Ahzab: 38].
TRUE PEACE OF MIND AND CONTENTMENT
As we have already stated, one of the reasons why people feel interest in philosophies such as the idea of karma is their desire to escape from the worries in their lives, their lack of peace of mind and their unhappiness. Different people try various methods of their own in order to achieve this. However, in reality the only way to achieve true contentment and peace of mind is to surrender to Allah, respect the boundaries He has set up and seek His blessing in every moment of our lives. It is He Who created mankind out of nothing, Who brought us out of non-existence and gave us life, Who equipped us with infinite varieties of sustenance, Who is infinitely Merciful and Kind, Who returns good with good, protects and cares for us, and Who created everything justly for our ultimate good.
Allah is the sole Lord of every living and non-living being in the whole universe; He is the sole Creator and the sole Power in the universe. All powers, all armies, all people and all groups belong to Allah and have surrendered to Him, whether they acknowledge it or not. Allah tells us this in the following verse of the Qur’an:
Is it other than the religion of Allah that you desire, when everything in the heavens and earth, willingly or unwillingly, submits to Him and to Him you will be returned? [Surah Al ‘Imran: 83]
Anyone who surrenders to Allah, the sole Lord of the whole universe, and who accepts Allah as their only Friend and Guardian, bowing before Him in heartfelt love, obedience and awe, has found the only way to salvation, for Allah is the Supreme Power. We are told of Allah’s greatness and His exaltedness in the following verse:
Allah, there is no god but Him, the Living, the Self-Sustaining. He is not subject to drowsiness or sleep. Everything in the heavens and the earth belongs to Him. Who can intercede with Him except by His permission? He knows what is before them and what is behind them but they cannot grasp any of His knowledge save what He wills. His Footstool encompasses the heavens and the earth and their preservation does not tire Him. He is the Most High, the Magnificent. [Surat al-Baqarah: 255]
Following this verse of the Qur’an, in which we are told of Allah’s greatness and His exaltedness, we are told that if we turn away from false gods and towards Him, we will have taken hold, as it were, of a firm handhold to Him that cannot be removed as long as we cling to it:
There is no compulsion where the religion is concerned. Right guidance has become clearly distinct from error. Anyone who rejects false gods and believes in Allah has grasped the Firmest Handhold, which will never give way. Allah is All-Hearing, All-Knowing. Allah is the Protector of those who believe. He brings them out of the darkness into the light. But those who disbelieve have false gods as protectors. They take them from the light into the darkness. Those are the Companions of the Fire remaining in it timelessly, for ever. [Surat al-Baqara: 256-257]
Because they do not realise this, many people mistakenly seek the support and the guardianship of beings who are in fact powerless to achieve anything and are just as impotent as they themselves are. Doing this causes such people to live their lives in fear and insecurity.
For instance, let us take the case of a person with a legal problem. This person will hire a lawyer to defend him. He will trust the lawyer because he knows the legal system much better than he himself does. As long as he continues to trust in the lawyer’s abilities and feel confidence in him, he will feel relaxed and confident about everything to do with the lawsuit. But if he does not entrust his business to a lawyer in spite of the fact that he himself has no knowledge of legal matters, and take the entire responsibility upon himself, he will meet with many unnecessary worries and difficulties. Or let us consider the case of a person who is ill and who willingly entrusts himself to the care of his doctor, doing everything he says and following his advice. As long as he has confidence in the doctor’s professional abilities, he will not search for different medicines and different treatments for himself.
Both these examples show how we place confidence in other people and surrender ourselves to them because of their special abilities. Being able to rely on someone we trust gives us a welcome feeling of peace of mind and confidence. However, trusting in Allah and surrendering ourselves to Him is an incomparably greater and more significant matter than this.
If we surrender ourselves to Allah, we willingly accept everything He sends us throughout our lives—every event, every image, every conversation. No matter what happens, we never ask, “What’s going on?” When we have experienced difficulty, we never say, “If only this or that had not happened”, because we know that everything that happens to us has been sent to us by our Lord Allah, to Whom we have confidently surrendered ourselves and in Whose justice, kindness and mercy we have absolute faith. It is very important for us to surrender ourselves to Allah, as a means to salvation. The importance of this is explained in the following verses of the Qur’an:
If they argue with you, say, “I have submitted myself completely to Allah, and so have all who follow me”. Say to those given the Book and those who have no Book, ”Have you become Muslim?” If they become Muslim, they have been guided. If they turn away, you are only responsible for transmission. Allah sees His servants. [Surah Al Imran: 20]
Those who submit themselves completely to Allah and do good have grasped the Firmest Handhold. The end result of all affairs is with Allah. [Surah Luqman: 22]
Those who do not surrender themselves to Allah, trusting instead in their own wisdom and seeing themselves as separate, independent beings, often experience suffering and torment throughout their lives. Whenever they do not get what they want, they immediately begin to feel unhappy and despairing — whereas if they knew that everything Allah sends us is for a good purpose in terms of our ultimate fate, and told themselves that Allah knows things that they do not know, nothing would cause them sorrow or anxiety. For example, if someone is late in arriving at the place he is going to, or is unable to reach it at all, he may feel sorry about this for days. However, if he surrenders himself to Allah, he will know that not being able to get there must have had a good purpose and that Allah must have willed this for his own good and he will not feel worried in the slightest. There will be no sadness and fear for such people either in this world or the next, as these verses of the Qur’an tell us:
Those who say, “Our Lord is Allah”, and then go straight will feel no fear and will know no sorrow. Such people are the Companions of the Garden, remaining in it timelessly, for ever, as repayment for what they did. [Surat al-Ahqaf: 13-14]
Yes, the friends of Allah will feel no fear and will know no sorrow: those who believe and guard against evil, there is good news for them in the life of this world and in the hereafter. There is no changing the words of Allah. That is the great victory! [Surah Yunus: 62-64]
Allah allows those who do good to have a good life
Apart from His promise that we will have happiness and peace of mind if we surrender to Him and to the fate that He has determined for us, Allah also promises us that He will allow those who have faith and trust in Him and perform good actions to have a good life in this world:
Anyone who acts rightly, male or female, being a believer, We will give them a good life and We will recompense them according to the best of what they did. [Surat an-Nahl: 97]
… There is good in this world for those who do good, and the abode of the hereafter is even better. How wonderful is the abode of those who guard against evil… [Surat an-Nahl: 30]
There are many good things in this world. In order to have a good life, one thing we need is friends we can trust and with whom we can enjoy a relationship of mutual affection and real intimacy. Allah lends His support to His servants who have sincere faith in Him and who trust Him by giving them friends who are good Muslims like themselves — trustworthy, honourable people who are friends of Allah. That is why a Muslim is never lonely. One of Allah’s greatest gifts to the faithful is to ensure that they always have friends with them – fellow-Muslims whom they can trust, whom they love and respect and whom they hold in greater honour than they hold themselves.
One of the greatest difficulties for the ignorant—those who follow a code of ethics different from that outlined in the Qur’an—is not having anyone near them who can be a friend to them; they have no one on whose wisdom and sincerity they can rely, who will stand by them in all circumstances and who will give them support based on sincere affection rather than on any desire for personal advantage.
Friendships between people who do not follow the values set out in the Qur’an and exemplified in the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, always contain an element of conflict of interest. These people may not have anyone near them to support them if they find themselves in material or emotional difficulties. This never happens with friendships between Muslims. Muslims have such high standards that they will give priority to meeting the needs of other people even when they themselves are in need. Allah describes these qualities of the believers in the following verse:
Those who were already settled in the abode, and in belief, before they (the emigrants) came, love those who have emigrated to them and do not find in their hearts any need for what they have been given and prefer them to themselves even if they themselves are needy. It is the people who are safe-guarded from the avarice of their own selves who are successful. [Surat al-Hashr: 9]
A good Muslim does not enjoy being in the company of those who do not call on the name of Allah, who rebel against destiny and who have a liking for idle talk. That is why Allah ensures that Muslims provide support for each other. The faithful constantly call on the name of Allah, speak enthusiastically of the beautiful things He has created and give thanks for His gifts. Everything they say has a reason and a purpose; in everything they say there is joy, wisdom and beauty, and strength, truth and majesty. Their words never cause distress, pessimism or despair and never lead people to give up hope that a solution will be found; their words are always hope-giving, like an announcement of good news, bringing enlightenment to those who listen and opening up new horizons for them; their words provide endless food for thought and create a feeling of spaciousness and relaxation in the listener. No one offends anyone else, no one says hurtful things and no one speaks with envy or derision; instead, there is real friendship, joy and affection, as there is the honesty of speaking the truth, and real and genuine counsel in the affairs of this life and the path to the next.
Another characteristic of a good life is that it is lived in clean, healthy and comfortable surroundings. Muslims always choose the cleanest and most healthy alternative. The conditions in which the ignorant live, however, are generally dirty, disorderly and depressing. Such people prefer out-of-the-way places that are dark and smoky, even for recreation—although the soul of man was created in such a way as to be able to feel pleasure in the cleanness and beauty of Heaven.
Allah may also give Muslims comfortable living conditions and material abundance in this world. As we are told in the Qur’an, some prophets such as Muhammad, Sulayman, Yusuf and Ibrahim, peace be upon all of them, were people to whom abundance and material wealth were given. For example, Allah tells us that He has made Muhammad, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, rich, saying to him: “Did He not find you impoverished and enrich you?” [Surat ad-Duha: 8]. However, our Prophet was generous and gave everything away to others and always preferred others, so that often he was left without a single dinar or dirham, simply because of his generosity and reliance upon Allah. Also, Allah gave Yusuf control over the treasuries of Egypt. And when Sulayman prayed to Allah to give him a kingdom greater than anyone else could possess, Allah granted his prayer.
In the following verse of the Qur’an, Allah tells Muslims that through His munificence He will make them rich. In this case, Allah mentions that if people are too poor to marry, yet they ought to marry and then He will enrich them:
If you are poor, Allah will enrich them from His bounty. Allah is All-Encompassing, All-Knowing. [Surat an-Nur: 32]
Allah may make some of the faithful rich, and if He does, it is through His grace and favour, but the faithful never pursue the material benefits of this world as an end in itself. Their only desire is to obtain Allah’s grace and mercy, and to gain the Garden that Allah has beautified with an infinite number of good things. Thus they use the blessings and the wealth Allah has given them in the best possible way, in order to obtain His blessing. They are not wasteful. They protect those in need and enable them to enjoy the good things Allah has made available. They also use everything they own in the best possible way as a means of causing the teachings outlined in the Qur’an to become more widely known and practised.
Unlike the faithful, those who deny Allah often have a life of never-ending distress and suffering. Even though they may be rich and have all the wordly goods they could ask for, Allah gives such people heaviness of heart:
When Allah desires to guide someone, He expands his breast to Islam. When He desires to misguide someone, He makes his breast narrow and constricted as if he were climbing up into the sky. That is how Allah defiles those who disbelieve. [Surat al-An’am: 125]
In another verse, Allah tells us that those who obey Him will be happy, whereas those who do not will have a life of worry and care:
But if anyone turns away from My reminder, his life will be a dark and narrow one and on the Day of Rising We will gather him blind. [Surah Ta Ha: 124]
The only way for us to have a good life both in this world and the next is to love Allah, to fear Him, to obtain His friendship and to respect the rules and limitations set out in the Qur’an. Superstitious beliefs, such as the corrupted idea of karma, that do not originate in the Qur’an cannot provide any real solution to our need for happiness and our desire to live a good life. Allah tells us that it is He Himself Who rescues us from distress in the following words:
Say: “Allah rescues you from it, and from every plight. Then you associate others with Him”. [Surat al-An’am: 64]
ALLAH IS THE SOURCE OF REAL JUSTICE
In Indian religions, it is believed that karma is a law of cause and effect, and that it is this law that causes people to receive the reward of their actions. There is no belief in a Creator who has made this law and enforces it, however; the law of karma is claimed to function by itself. For instance, it is believed that if one performs wholesome actions such as donating money to charitable organizations, one will experience happiness. However, there can of course be no metaphysical law of this kind without some power or some will that causes things to be so.
One of the most logically unacceptable aspects of concept of karma is that it asks us to believe that moral values can exist without anyone to apply them. Even the laws made by man have authorities and institutions to enforce them. For instance, the penalty for theft is set out in every country’s laws. However, these laws never function by themselves; there are always authorities, institutions and officials to enforce them. When someone commits theft, the laws do not go into motion to put the thief in prison of their own accord. In order to do this, the process of law is carried out by police officers, judges, public prosecutors and courts of law. Judges pronounce judgement according to the laws and the criminal is punished for what he has done.
To say that karma is a law that works by itself would be even more illogical than to claim that the laws of a country function of their own accord, with no-one to enforce them. Imagine that the billions of people who have so far lived on this earth are to be given another life in which they will receive the just reward for whatever they have done. In that case, who will observe how they behave while on earth? Who will decide whether they are good or bad? And who will decide on and arrange their next life in accordance with what they have done in this? If the life we have in our next incarnation depends on what we do in our present life, there must be some power that determines and plans our fate. In karmic philosophy, however, there is no power of this kind. According to this vague and irrational belief, all of this happens by itself. Moreover, it is also believed that this so-called “law of karma”treats people justly and gives them the full and exact reward for their actions without overlooking anything or making mistakes, although this “law” has in fact no power to make decisions or judgements. These are highly superstitious claims that any intelligent person will, if they give the matter any thought, immediately understand to be illogical.
Some people who believe in karma claim that the “law of karma” functions in accordance with the will of God—in other words, that it is God Who decides whether we have good or bad karma in this life, and Who prepares the conditions under which we will live in our next life. There is,however, an important fact that such people have overlooked: there is no mention of the idea of karma in the true religion as chosen for mankind by Allah and as communicated to us by means of the Qur’an. As this book has already stated, the idea of karma is a superstitious belief that is not mentioned in the Qur’an and that has many aspects which conflict with the beliefs of Islam. Therefore, those who believe in the existence of Allah should not waste their time investigating it; instead, they should embrace the Qur’an and the clear Sunnah of Muhammad, may Allah bless him and grant him peace.
It is Allah Who rewards good actions and Who is the source of infinite justice
Everyone who believes in Allah and who listens to the voice of his or her intellect and conscience knows that Allah, not karma, is the source of justice, and He pays us back in full for whatever we have done during our life on earth, and sees everything unceasingly, knows our inmost secrets and is the All Powerful, Supreme Lord of the whole universe. Allah tells us that He Himself gives us the full and complete reward of every good or bad action in several verses of the Qur’an:
Those who produce a good action will receive ten like it. But those who produce a bad action will only be repaid with its equivalent and they will not be wronged. [Surat al-An’am: 160]
And be steadfast. Allah does not let the wage of good-doers go to waste. [Surah Hud: 115]
… As for those who fear Allah and are steadfast, Allah does not allow to go to waste the wage of any people who do good. [Surah Yusuf: 90]
Both in this world and in the afterlife, Allah rewards every one of us for our actions in the most just way. For instance, He tells us that those who disbelieve and who enter into conflict with those who are good and cause difficulties for them will be punished by Him both in this world and in the afterlife. Allah, in His infinite justice, punishes disbelieving evildoers, destroys the traps they set for the good, causes difficulties for them and makes them live a difficult and distressing life. However, in this life He protects the good who have belief in Him and who trust Him and keeps them from evil; He makes difficult things easy for them and promises them a good life. Allah tells us of these things in the following verses of the Qur’an:
Allah calls to the Abode of Peace and He guides whom He wills to a straight path. Those who do good will have the best and more! Neither dust nor debasement will darken their faces. They are the Companions of the Garden, remaining in it timelessly, for ever. [Surah Yunus: 25-26]
Anyone who acts rightly, male or female, being a believer, We will give them a good life and We will recompense them according to the best of what they did. [Surat al-Nahl: 97]
As for him who gives out and guards against evil and confirms the Good, We will pave his way to Ease. But as for him who is stingy and self-satisfied, and denies the Good, We will pave his way to Difficulty. [Surat al-Layl: 5-10]
Allah’s infinite justice will manifest itself on the Day of Judgement
It is on the Day of Judgement that everything done by both the good and the wicked throughout their lives on earth will be given its full and exact reward.
According to concept of karma, it is in our next incarnation that we will receive the reward of our actions. For instance, those who do evil will be reborn in their next life as a plant, or perhaps as a slave. Those who do good and help others will be rich or of high standing in their next life. However, as has already been pointed out, this is not a complete reward for good and evil actions; neither is it true that we come to this world many times. We come to this world only once; after this, our real life—the life in the afterlife, which will go on forever—begins.
When we die, we will rise again on the Day of Judgement and be brought to account for our doings on earth. While this process of giving account is going on, everything we did, said and thought throughout our lives will be brought before us, and nothing will be left out of the account that is placed in our hands. We are told about the shock that unbelievers will get when their account is placed before them on that day in the following verse:
The Book will be set in place and you will see the evildoers fearful of what is in it. They will say, “Alas for us! What is this Book which does not pass over any action, small or great, without recording it?” They will find there everything they did and your Lord will not wrong anyone at all. [Surat al-Kahf: 49]
On the Day of Judgement, when we will be called to account for everything we have done during our lives on earth, we will all be given our just reward, and no one will be done even the slightest injustice:
We will set up the Just Balance on the Day of Rising and no self will be wronged in any way. Even if it is no more than the weight of a grain of mustard-seed, We will produce it. We are sufficient as a Reckoner. [Surat al-anbiya: 47]
The good will receive their reward in the Garden, while the wicked will receive their punishment in the Fire
When people are resurrected after their deaths, and after they have been called to account by Allah’s justice, they will be sent to their real home—the Garden or the Fire—where they will remain for ever. The Garden and the Fire are divided into different ranks so that we can all be given what is due to us:
As for those who come to their Lord as evildoers, they will have Hell where they will neither die nor stay alive. But as for those who come to Him as believers, having done right actions, they will have the highest ranks: Gardens of Eden with rivers flowing under them, remaining in them timelessly, for ever. That is the reward of those who purify themselves. [Surah Ta Ha: 74-76]
Those are people of whom the statement about the nations, both of jinn and men, who passed away before them, has also proved true; truly they were the lost. Everyone will be ranked according to what they did. We will pay them in full for their actions and they will not be wronged. On the Day when those who disbelieved are exposed to the Fire:
“You dissipated the good things you had in your worldly life and enjoyed yourself in it. So today you are being repaid with the punishment of humiliation for being arrogant in the earth without any right and for being deviators”. [Surat al-Ahqaf: 18-20]
Only Allah is capable of giving to everyone the exact reward for everything they have done without anyone being wronged even slightly. Allah sees and knows everything; Allah is Forgiving and Merciful, forgets nothing, is never mistaken and is Supremely Just.
Allah knows, sees and hears everything
Allah is aware of everything that happens on earth—every single falling leaf and every private thought people have. This is what Allah says in one of the verses of the Qur’an:
The keys of the Unseen are in His possession. No one knows them but Him. He knows everything in the land and sea. No leaf falls without His knowing it. There is no seed in the darkness of the earth, and nothing moist or dry which is not in a Clear Book. [Surat al-An’am: 59]
For instance, two people having a secret conversation may think that only they themselves know about it; however, Allah is also with them while they are talking. Allah hears and is aware of their secret conversation and of everything they whisper to each other. Those who are not mindful of Allah’s presence think that these secret talks in which they plan evil deeds will remain secret and never be found out, so they will never be punished for their plans. However, Allah sees and hears them, all the time:
Do they not know that Allah knows their secrets and their private talk, and that Allah is the Knower of all unseen things? [Surat at-Tawba: 78]
When Allah, Who knows and sees everything, gives people the reward of their actions on the Day of Judgement, He will reveal the actions and thoughts that they imagined would remain secret. Allah knows everything, even that which is most secret, as He tells us in the Qur’an in the following words:
Everything in the heavens and everything on the earth and everything in between them and everything under the ground belongs to Him. Though you speak out loud, He knows your secrets and what is even more concealed. [Surah Ta Ha: 6-7]
On the Day of Judgement, everything will be revealed; nothing can be kept secret from Allah, and Allah will give everyone the just reward of their actions, as we are told in the following verse:
He is the Raiser of ranks, the Possessor of the Throne, He sends the Spirit by His command to whichever of His servants He wills so that he may warn mankind about the Day of Meeting: the Day when they will issue forth and when not one thing about them will be hidden from Allah.”To whom does the kingdom belong today? To Allah, the One, the Conqueror! Every self will be repaid today for what it earned. Today there will be no injustice. Allah is swift at reckoning”. [Surat al-Mu’min: 15-17]
In order for a just judgement to be given about someone or something, every visible and invisible detail must be known. For example, the intentions we had in doing something must be known, and what we were thinking and doing at times and in places where no one could see us must also be known; judgement must be given according to this information. Only Allah knows everything and sees what is unseen. That is why only Allah can pronounce judgement on people with absolute justice. In the following verse, we are told that Allah is the All-Knowing—He is aware of the inner nature of everything and of all hidden aspects of affairs:
You who believe! Observe your duty to Allah and let each self look to what it has sent forward for tomorrow. Observe your duty to Allah. Allah is aware of what you do. [Surat al-Hashr: 18]
It is obvious that the concept of karma is simply an idea, a human invention devoid of intelligence or power, i.e. it is devoid of conscious awareness and does not possess attributes which belong to Allah alone, such as “knowing all secrets and what is even more concealed” and “hearing all private conversations”. We cannot expect a concept of this kind to possess any power or will of its own. It would be extremely illogical to deny that this is so. It would be like saying that someone could invent a concept of their own and then claim that this concept would administer justice among people and stop all the wars in the world; it would be like claiming that everyone who repeated this idea to themselves every day would become rich. Such a claim would be no more than superstition, entirely lacking in substance. In order for there to be justice in a place, there must be a will that enforces justice. Karma is only a word, an idea. If we give the matter only a little thought, we will see how irrational and illogical the concept of karma is.
Allah forgets nothing and is never mistaken
When Allah judges between people, He evaluates everything that happens and everything that is said. The judgement He gives is the most correct one, and the one that is most beneficial. After all, it is He Who created every thing. Some people of shallow opinions, however, cannot conceive how He can know and remember everything.
One example of such people given in the Qur’an is that of the Pharaoh who lived at the time of Musa. When Musa, peace be upon him, said that Allah shows everyone the right way, Pharaoh asked what, in that case, would happen to the people who lived on earth in the earliest times, thus showing great ignorance:
He (Musa),said, “Our Lord is He who gives each thing its created form and then guides it”. He (Pharaoh) said, “What about the previous generations?” He said, “Knowledge of them is with my Lord in a Book. My Lord does not misplace nor does He forget”. [Surah Ta Ha: 50-52]
Like His infinite justice, Allah’s freedom from all confusion and the fact that He forgets nothing is an attribute of His divine essence. For instance, because men are weak and forgetful creatures, they may forget the good or evil done them by a friend, or they may remember the details incorrectly, or only partially. This usually has a negative effect on their ability to think justly and make correct decisions. Allah, however, is the All-Preserver (Al-Hafiz). In other words, He preserves all things in detail. He is the One Whose Knowledge encompasses all that He brought into existence. For example, everything about someone who is on their first day at primary school—everything they say, the way they walk and every feature of their behaviour—all these things are present in the knowledge of Allah in all their freshness, exactly as they happened on that day. And everything about a farmer who lived in the time of Ibrahim, peace be upon him, on the day he first sowed seed in his field is also present in the knowledge of Allah. On the Day of Judgement, all these details will be observable, with all the immediacy they had on the day they actually happened, just as if they were happening in the present.
In short, Allah forgets nothing; everything is constantly present to the awareness of our Lord, Allah. That is why Allah can give each one of us the exact reward of all our actions. It is mere superstition to expect that an imaginary concept like karma could administer justice among people; it is irrational and illogical.
Allah is Most Merciful and Forgiving
We are told in several verses of the Qur’an that Allah is Merciful, Kind and Forgiving to His servants:
Do you not see that Allah has made everything on the earth subservient to you and the ships running upon the sea by His command? He holds back the heaven, preventing it from falling to the earth—except by His permission. Allah is All-Compassionate to mankind, Most Merciful. [Surat al-Hajj: 65]
Truly your Lord is the Almighty, the Most Merciful. [Surat ash-Shu’ara: 9]
Anyone who does evil or wrongs himself and then asks Allah’s forgiveness will find Allah Ever-Forgiving, Most Merciful. [Surat an-Nisa: 110]
Allah, Who is infinitely Merciful, forgives His servants’ wrong actions if they repent and mend their ways. He turns their evil actions into good deeds; throughout their lives on earth, He gives them opportunities to reform themselves. In the Qur’an He tells us that if He were to punish us all for our wrong actions immediately, there would be no living thing left on earth. However, Allah tests His servants by means of the time He grants them, and gives them countless opportunities to obtain His grace and mercy, and to attain the Garden. In this verse, He describes how He gives us a set period of time to achieve these things:
If Allah were to punish people for their wrong actions, not a single creature would be left upon the earth, but He defers them till a predetermined time. When their specified time arrives, they cannot delay it for a single hour nor can they bring it forward. [Surat al-Nahl: 61]
Those who have faith in Allah and trust in Him, who know that Allah is infinitely Just and Merciful and submit to Him, experience peace of mind and inner certainty in the afterlife, secure in the knowledge that they will receive the exact reward of their actions on Earth, and that no injustice whatsoever will be done them.
However, those who choose as their guide a law, a rule or a myth such as the idea of karma that has no place in the religion of truth, are making a serious mistake. They are overlooking the fact that no imaginary law that any powerless being or person, who themselves are created and who are incapable of creating anything, have invented and given a name, can be of the slightest use to them either in this world or the next. Such people are ignoring the fact that all these concepts are “false gods” that cannot administer justice to men and have no power to raise people to life again after their deaths or determine what lives they will live in the first place. Such people should know that Allah is the sole Creator of mankind, and that only He has the power to judge and to understand the hidden reasons for things. This is what Allah says in the Qur’an:
“Am I to desire someone other than Allah as a judge when it is He who has sent down the Book to you clarifying everything?” Those We have given the Book know it has been sent down from your Lord with truth, so on no account be among the doubters. [Surat al-An’am: 114]
THE QUR’AN: ALLAH’S MOST RECENT REVELATION
As we have already stated, many people seek love, peace, inner certainty, friendship, mercy and kindness—things which only Allah can give them—in things other than Allah, such as idea of karma. These beliefs are, however, founded on superstition and error. It is only Allah, our Creator, Who understands our inner nature and knows how we can be made happy and contented. Therefore, the best and most correct way for us to follow is the way shown to us by Allah Himself. Allah has described the right way and the right religion for us in the Qur’an, His most recent revelation. This is what Allah says about the Qur’an:
That is the Book, without any doubt. It contains guidance for those who guard against evil. [Surat al-Baqarah: 2]
Allah revealed the Qu’ran to the Prophet Muhammad, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, in order to make Himself known to us, to tell us the purpose for which mankind, life in this world and death were created, to tell us of the existence of the afterlife, the end of the world and of the Day of Judgement, and to tell us many essential pieces of knowledge—such as which good qualities of character please Him. Allah revealed Himself to other prophets before He revealed the Qur’an, but all the previous divinely-revealed books have, in time, become partially corrupted. The Qur’an, however, is the most recent divine revelation and has never been corrupted. Allah tells us that the Qur’an will be protected, and will not suffer corruption, in the following verse:
It is We Who have sent down the Reminder and We Who will preserve it. [Surat al-Hijr: 9]
The faithful are absolutely confident in the knowledge that the Qur’an is the very word of Allah and is the only guide for mankind. There is a great deal of evidence for this. For instance, the inimitable style in which it is written and the hidden meanings it contains are clear evidence that it comes from Allah. Moreover, there are many miracles in the Qur’an. For example, the Qur’an tells us some scientific facts that were not known at the time when it was revealed, around 1400 years ago, but were only “discovered” in the twentieth century.
Apart from these scientific facts, the Qur’an also contains information about future events. Many more miracles of the Qur’an took place when these events actually occurred during the course of history.
Another of the outstanding features of the Qur’an is the fact that it is entirely free from inconsistency. Throughout history, enemies of Islam have approached the Qur’an with prejudiced minds, and have spent great efforts in order to find something that was, according to their own shallow logic, inconsistent. But the Qur’an, being the word of Allah, does not contain any inconsistency whatsoever. Allah tells us of this characteristic of the Qur’an in the following verse:
Will they not ponder the Qur’an? If it had been from other than Allah, they would have found many inconsistencies in it. [Surat an-Nisa: 82]
The Qur’an is a guide that helps us to distinguish truth from falsehood
There are many ideas, philosophies and beliefs current in the world. Several of these are based on superstitious and dangerous beliefs, ideas and practices, though they also have some positive features. The concept of karma, for instance, contains several erroneous and superstitious elements. It is true that there are some things about it that might encourage people to live a morally good life. However, the only way to distinguish what is truly good from what is truly evil is to consult the Qu’ran and the Sunnah of the Messenger, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, which Allah sent to us as our only guide. During the course of this book, we have described some of the characteristics of the idea of karma, and have explained why various aspects of this idea are true or false. In doing this, our only criterion and source of reference has been the verses of the Qur’an. For instance, when criticising the belief in reincarnation which forms part of karmic philosophy, we were guided by the verses of the Qur’an. The reason for this is that all sources apart from Allah’s Book and the Sunnah of Muhammad, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, are products of human thought, so they cannot be absolutely reliable. The only absolutely reliable source is Allah’s own Book and His Messenger’s Sunnah. Those who delude themselves that they can live their lives according to any other book or source cannot avoid error.
Allah tells us of the Quran’s ability to distinguish truth from falsehood in the following verse:
… and He has sent down the Furqan (The standard by which to discern the true from the false). Those who reject Allah’s Signs will have a terrible punishment. Allah is Almighty, Exactor of Revenge. [Surah Al ‘Imran: 4]
The Qur’an is the only Book that shows mankind the way to liberation, that gives us warnings about our eternal life after death, that indicates the right road and that is capable of being a guide for those who want to obtain Allah’s grace and mercy, and to reach Allah’s Garden. And the religion of Islam, as communicated to us in the Qur’an, is the sole religion chosen by Allah for mankind in this age. Allah tells us about this in the following verse:
If anyone desires anything other than Islam as a religion, it will not be accepted from him, and in the hereafter he will be among the losers. [Surah Al ‘Imran: 85]
In several eastern religions, as in the concept of karma and other beliefs of this kind, there are obviously some features borrowed or inherited from the true religions of the very ancient peoples. However, in the course of time, these beliefs have become corrupted owing to the addition of elements of superstition and myth handed down from generation to generation. While they may appeal to people to adopt positive moral qualities and to live in peace, they also contain many irrational elements such as the worship of cows, greeting them as if they were people, and regarding mice and monkeys as sacred. That is why everyone who wishes to bring positive qualities such as peace, love, friendship and inner contentment into their lives, and who sincerely wishes to ensure that these qualities become more widespread among mankind in general, should look to Allah and to the Qur’an, the book that Allah revealed to us and chose for us as our guide. It is only in the Qur’an that we will find the solution to every problem that causes us worry and that we wish to set right. Allah has created every one of us in such a way that we will find happiness and peace of mind if we follow the religion He Himself chose for us:
So set your face firmly towards the religion, as a pure natural believer, Allah’s natural pattern on which He made mankind. There is no changing Allah’s creation. That is the true religion— but most people do not know it. [Surat ar-Rum: 30]
1- Editor’s note: Nevertheless, Allah tells us: “Do not curse those they call upon besides Allah, in case that makes them curse Allah in animosity, without knowledge.” (Surat al-An’am: 109) So even if people have terrible superstitions, it behoves us to speak courteously so that they do not becomes enemies of Islam because of our behaviour. This is the guidance of the Qur’an.
2- Prof. Dr. Gunay Tumer, Prof. Dr. Abdurrahman Kucuk, Dinler Tarihi (The History of Religions), Ocak Publishing, Ankara 1993, pp. 91-92
3- Buyuk Dinler ve Mezhepler Ansiklopedisi (Big Religions and Sects Encyclopedia), 1964, Istanbul, p. 52
4- Dr. Ali Ihsan Yitik, Hint Kokenli Dinlerde Karma Inancının Tenasuh Inancıyla Iliskisi (The Relation of the Idea of Karma in Indian Religions with the Idea of Reincarnation) , pp. 130-131
5- Editor’s note: This is only true, however, as we mention, for those of the believers whom Allah punishes for major wrong actions short of associating partners with Allah by admitting them to the Fire. The disbelievers who reject Allah and His signs and His Messengers will stay in the Fire forever as a result of their actions.
6- Editor’s note: This verse was revealed about the Jews claiming that the Fire would only touch them for a number of days, but this was false in their case because the wrong action for which they thought they would be forgiven was their rejection of Allah’s signs and His Messengers including their murdering some of the Messengers and Prophets, and finally their rejection of ‘Isa, peace be upon him, and Muhammad, may Allah bless him and grant him peace. For such open disbelief there is no emerging from the Fire, unless the person turns to Allah in tawbah before his death. As for believers who do major wrong actions, Allah will either forgive them totally or He may punish them for a period of time in the Fire and then bring them out of the Fire to the Garden by His mercy and by the intercession of His Messenger, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and the intercession of the right-acting among the Muslims.
7- Prof. Dr. Gunay Tumer, Prof. Dr. Abdurrahman Kucuk, Dinler Tarihi (The History of Religions), Ocak Publishing, Ankara 1993, p. 163