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Faith and Values: Does the Quran say everything happens for a reason? Not in so many words

Maimoona Harrington was born and raised in Pakistan and moved to the United States with her family in 2008. She writes the Ask A Muslim column for SpokaneFāVS.com.  (Courtesy Spokane FāVS)
Maimoona Harrington was born and raised in Pakistan and moved to the United States with her family in 2008. She writes the Ask A Muslim column for SpokaneFāVS.com. (Courtesy Spokane FāVS)
By Maimoona Harrington Spokane FaVS

The following question is part of the Spokane Faith and Values “Ask a Muslim” series, which allows readers to submit questions online. You can submit a question at the Spokane FāVS website.

Question: Is there a verse in the Quran that says, “everything happens for a reason?”

Answer: “Everything happens for a reason” works as a reassurance mechanism to cope with hardships. With reference to the question, it is often considered that it has been extracted from one of the monotheistic Scriptures, but it is not. Hence, there is no verse in the Quran that translate into these exact words.

However, there are many verses in the Quran that repeatedly confirm the context of the above statement. These contexts refer to the sovereignty of our creator, Almighty God, His knowledge of all that is seen and concealed. He does whatever He chooses to, and all this takes precedence over reasoning.

There are verses in other scriptures, including the Quran, that clearly show that nothing is in our control. Almighty Creator is the Sovereign. Nothing happens without His approval, knowing and will. Anything good or bad happens with His permission, and we should accept it as a blessing in disguise, since we cannot see or know what will happen from one moment to another in our lives. This leaves the burden of reasoning both on the faith and the faithful.

Say, “Only what God has decreed will happen to us. He is our Master: let the believers put their trust in God.” (From the Quran, Chapter 9, Verse 51.)

Things happens to us in life and in that particular moment, we do not know why they happened. But the notion that it happened for a reason empowers us in our lives, and how we react to them and create meaning out of all of this is what matters most. We seek closures, though mostly in cases of loss, and knowing the reasons satisfy us. But sometimes, when in search of closures, faith and consolation of knowing there must be a reason behind the loss helps us move forward.

I found this question challenging to answer because this is something I never question myself about. My belief tells me that God is Al-Alim and Al-Ghaib al-Mutlaq. The Knower of All and with the knowledge of all that is unseen, hidden and concealed.

In Chapter 6, Verse 59, the Quran says, “He has the keys to the unseen: no one knows them but Him.”

We can live our lives with good deeds and intentions. What happens next is out of our control, since as humans, we lack the knowledge of our future and the knowledge of the unseen.

In the end, I would say that I am a novice learner of my own faith; I could be wrong and there could be a verse that states precisely as asked that, “everything happens for a reason.”

There are numerous interpretations of the Quranic verses that are used fully or in part for explanations on various subjects. Secondly, all that is believed and practiced in Islam is not entirely based on the Quran. While we have the Quran, we also have Sunnah – Prophet Muhammad’s sayings and his way of life called Hadiths. So all that Muslims do, believe and practice is a combination of these two.

I will end my answer with a part of a verse in the Quran:

“No soul knows what it will reap tomorrow,” (Chapter 31, Verse 34).

This verse conveys that our Creator is All Knowing. To me, there is a direct link between “everything happens for a reason” and “with not knowing what happens next.”

To further understand the statement, the questioner can also read the parable of Prophet Moses and Al-Khidr. It’s narrated in the Quran’s 18th chapter called The Cave, verses 60-82. The parable signifies that no matter how intelligent and knowledgeable we are, we will never know all that is unseen and concealed.

Maimoona Harrington was born and raised in Pakistan and moved to the United States with her family in 2008. She writes the Ask A Muslim column for SpokaneFaVS.com.

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