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"لا حول و لا قوت الا بالله"

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Wa alaykum as-salam,

From Ma`ani al-Akhbar, page 21:

حدثنا أحمد بن الحسن القطان قال: حدثنا الحسن بن علي السكري قال: حدثنا أبو عبد الله محمد بن زكريا البصري قال: حدثنا جعفر بن محمد بن عمارة، عن أبيه، عن جابر بن يزيد الجعفي، عن أبي جعفر محمد بن علي الباقر عليهما السلام، قال: سألته عن معنى

" لا حول ومالا قوة إلا بالله " فقال: معناه: لاحول لنا عن معصية الله إلا بعون الله، ولا قوة لنا على طاعة الله إلا بتوفيق الله عزوجل.

A man asked Imam al-Baqir (as) about the meaning of "There is no might nor power except by Allah." So he said, "It means: we do not have the ability to disobey Allah except by Allah's permission, nor do we have the power to obey Allah except by the help of Allah."

The sentence first denies that there is power and might in the creation, then it makes the condition - that all power is by ( ب ) Allah, with Allah, through Allah; without His permission we would have no power.

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8 hours ago, Qa'im said:

Wa alaykum as-salam,

From Ma`ani al-Akhbar, page 21:

حدثنا أحمد بن الحسن القطان قال: حدثنا الحسن بن علي السكري قال: حدثنا أبو عبد الله محمد بن زكريا البصري قال: حدثنا جعفر بن محمد بن عمارة، عن أبيه، عن جابر بن يزيد الجعفي، عن أبي جعفر محمد بن علي الباقر عليهما السلام، قال: سألته عن معنى

" لا حول ومالا قوة إلا بالله " فقال: معناه: لاحول لنا عن معصية الله إلا بعون الله، ولا قوة لنا على طاعة الله إلا بتوفيق الله عزوجل.

A man asked Imam al-Baqir (as) about the meaning of "There is no might nor power except by Allah." So he said, "It means: we do not have the ability to disobey Allah except by Allah's permission, nor do we have the power to obey Allah except by the help of Allah."

The sentence first denies that there is power and might in the creation, then it makes the condition - that all power is by ( ب ) Allah, with Allah, through Allah; without His permission we would have no power.

سلام brother, 

Thank you. 

A couple of follow up questions:

1) Doesn't "بعون" mean "with help"? Allah helps us in disobeying Him. 

2) Let's think of an abhorrent act, like murder. It was done with the help of Allah. How are we to understand this? 

This is why it matters to make it clear whether it's "by Allah's permission" or "with His help." The former verb has a passive connotation whereas the latter has an active connection. Allah actively helps people to disobey Him, as opposed to Allah passively allows people to disobey Him. 

Is Allah "sitting back and watching" abhorrent sins occur or is He actively helping them to occur? 

Of course this would open up a bigger question:

Is Allah actively involved in this world and people's deed or are there times when He's not actively involved? 

When you say "that all power is by ( ب ) Allah, with Allah, through Allah; without His permission we would have no power," there's a friction in this statement. The first statement indicates Allah is active. The second statement indicates that He knows but not active, "sitting back and watching." 

In short, "Allah does it" and "Allah permits it to happen" have very different meanings and implications. It's the difference between actively partaking in killing and passively letting die. 

What are your thoughts on this? Can we ever attribute passivity to Allah?

Edited by SoRoUsH

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8 hours ago, Qa'im said:

لاحول لنا عن معصية الله

Due to عن would the translation not be the following?

"There is no ability for Us to stay away from disobeying Allah سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى except .... "

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1 hour ago, muhibb-ali said:

Due to عن would the translation not be the following?

"There is no ability for Us to stay away from disobeying Allah سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى except .... "

Sorry you are correct. I missed the عن and therefore my translation was off. Apologies to everyone.

I hope that answers your question too Soroush.

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سلام، 

""There is no ability for us to stay away from disobeying Allah except by Allah's permission, nor do we have the power to obey Allah except by the help of Allah "

Ok. Let me break this down:

* By default, without Allah's interference, we disobey Him. 

* Allah actively helps us not to disobey Him. 

* Allah's help stops us from sinning AND pushes us to obey Him. 

Why is بتوفيق used for obeying Him and بعون used for disobeying Him? Is there a difference in the connotation of these two phrases? 

Here's an important concern:

How can anything evil/bad be done, if "لا حول و لا قوت"? If God is necessary for the power to act to be available, doesn't this imply that God gives/provide power, also, to whoever that's committing evil? 

 

Edited by SoRoUsH

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2 hours ago, SoRoUsH said:

How can anything evil/bad be done, if "لا حول و لا قوت"? If God is necessary for the power to act to be available, doesn't this imply that God gives/provide power, also, to whoever that's committing evil? 

1. Nothing happens in the universe without the permission of Allah. Everything good, evil, and neutral happens only with His permission.

2. Allah's will (mashi'a) is a creation that has two elements: active (fi`l) and reactive (infi`al). One of the titles of the mashi'a is al-kaf al-mustadeeratu `ala nafsiha (yin-yang) because it has these two elements that work together. The active element is Allah's direct divine intervention that causes something to take place. The reactive element is a receptive or passive force (called al-`umq al-akbar, the greatest depth), which can be affected by our will and our du`a's. If we commit a sin, it is not Allah's fi`l that is forcing us to commit that sin (jabr, fatalism), rather it is from our own will - Allah's mashi'a simply allows its existence. Still, even that sin cannot occur without the mashi'a allowing it. The mashi'a allows it because Allah gave us free will to test us. So ultimately, لا حول و لا قوت الا بالله

3. Evil and suffering has a role in this world. This suffering has meaning: it is either a trial (like in the case of Prophet Ayyub), a purification from sins (like the ill Muslim), a tool for our maturation and personality-building, or a divine chastisement (like the communities of Nuh, Lut, Salih, Shu`ayb, Hud, and others).

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26 minutes ago, Qa'im said:

1. Nothing happens in the universe without the permission of Allah. Everything good, evil, and neutral happens only with His permission.

My problem is with the word "permission." Does Allah permit things to happen or make them happen? Permission connotes passivity, "Sitting back and doing nothing." To say, "everything good, evil, and neutral happens only with His permission," implies that He's not actively involved with actions and events. I'm not sure if "لا حول ومالا قوة إلا بالله" leaves room for passivity of Allah.

32 minutes ago, Qa'im said:

2. Allah's will (mashi'a) is a creation that has two elements: active (fi`l) and reactive (infi`al). One of the titles of the mashi'a is al-kaf al-mustadeeratu `ala nafsiha (yin-yang) because it has these two elements that work together. The active element is Allah's direct divine intervention that causes something to take place. The reactive element is a receptive or passive force (called al-`umq al-akbar, the greatest depth), which can be affected by our will and our du`a's. If we commit a sin, it is not Allah's fi`l that is forcing us to commit that sin (jabr, fatalism), rather it is from our own will - Allah's mashi'a simply allows its existence. Still, even that sin cannot occur without the mashi'a allowing it. The mashi'a allows it because Allah gave us free will to test us. So ultimately, لا حول و لا قوت الا بالله

I see. Interesting! I was neither aware of "al-kaf al-mustadeeratu `ala nafsiha" nor "al-`umq al-akbar."
Naturally, my next question would be: 

Could you please provide acceptable ahadith from the Ahlul Bayt (as) that teach and/or affirm these ideas/concepts?

 

My ultimate concern isn't that of the existence of evil in this world or God permitting evil to occur. My ultimate question concerns the conept of power/قوت itself. "لا قوت الا بالله" "There's no power except with God." For any motion to occur a force or power is needed. But "There's no power except with God." So, for any motion good or evil to occur, power is required, and God must provide it, because power is with God. There is no power, there cannot be power, without God. Correct? So far so good? 

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2 hours ago, SoRoUsH said:

My problem is with the word "permission." Does Allah permit things to happen or make them happen? Permission connotes passivity, "Sitting back and doing nothing." To say, "everything good, evil, and neutral happens only with His permission," implies that He's not actively involved with actions and events. I'm not sure if "لا حول ومالا قوة إلا بالله" leaves room for passivity of Allah.

Well permit is not the same as "sitting back and doing nothing" - the latter would be tafwid (delegation), and it is what the Jews were saying in 5:64. Permitting an action on the other hand means that His will and power is involved in everything that takes place. Yes, it is more passive than fi`l, but it is like a boss signing or approving something for his/her employees, vs. not showing up and allowing the employees to do anything they want.

So the mashi'a either makes things happen directly (fi`l), or it permits things to happen (infi`al).

 

2 hours ago, SoRoUsH said:

Could you please provide acceptable ahadith from the Ahlul Bayt (as) that teach and/or affirm these ideas/concepts? 

This is what the Imams meant when they spoke about qadr. Some things are forced by Allah, some things are decided by free will, but all things happen only with His permission.

علي بن إبراهيم، عن محمد، عن يونس، عن عدة، عن أبي عبد الله عليه السلام قال: قال له رجل: جعلت فداك أجبر الله العباد على المعاصي؟ فقال: الله أعدل من أن يجبرهم على المعاصي ثم يعذبهم عليها، فقال له: جعلت فداك ففوض الله إلى العباد؟ قال: فقال: لو فوض إليهم لم يحصرهم بالامر والنهي، فقال له: جعلت فداك فبينهما منزلة قال: فقال: نعم أوسع ما بين السماء والارض.

`Ali b. Ibrahim from Muhammad from Yunus from several(?) from Abu `Abdillah عليه السلام.

He said: A man said to him: May I be your ransom, has Allah compelled His servants to sin? So he said: Allah is more just than to compel them to sin and then punish them for it. So he said to him: May I be your ransom, then has Allah left these [matters] to His servants? He said: So he said: Had He left it to them, He would not have restricted them with commands and prohibitions. So he said to him: May I be your ransom, then is there a stage between the two? He said: So he said: Yes, wider than that which is in between heaven and Earth. (al-Kafi, Volume 1, hadith 402)

(mursal kal-sahih) (مرسل كالصحيح)

And for the bigger picture, read chapters 24-30: http://www.imamiyya.com/hadith/usul-kafi/book-3

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2 hours ago, Qa'im said:

And for the bigger picture, read chapters 24-30: http://www.imamiyya.com/hadith/usul-kafi/book-3

محمد بن يحيى، عن أحمد بن محمد عن أحمد بن محمد بن أبي نصر قال: قال أبو الحسن الرضا عليه السلام قال الله: [ يا ] ابن آدم بمشيئتي كنت أنت الذي تشاء لنفسك ما تشاء، وبقوتي أديت فرائضي وبنعمتي قويت على معصيتي، جعلتك سميعا، بصيرا، قويا، ما أصابك من حسنة فمن الله، وما أصابك من سيئة فمن نفسك وذاك أني أولى بحسناتك منك وأنت أولى بسيئاتك مني، وذاك أنني لا اسأل عما أفعل وهم يسألون.

Muhammad b. Yahya from Ahmad b. Muhammad from Ahmad b. Muhammad b. Abi Nasr.

He said: Abu’l Hasan ar-Rida عليه السلام said: Allah says, “O son of Adam, by My wish you came into being, and it is you who wish for yourself whatever you wish. And by My power you fulfill your obligations and by My bounties you receive strength to disobey Me. I made you to hearing, seeing, and strong. Whatever good you receive is from Allah, and whatever evil afflicts you is from your self. And that is because I am not asked what I do, but they are held responsible for what they do”. (al-Kafi, Volume 1, hadith383)
 
 
 
First, I have no idea why the background is green. Why is the background of the source copied, too? :| 
Anyways, no big deal. 
 
 
Second, this above hadith sheds some light on my concern about "power."
Our strength is a bounty/blessing from God. It is part of us. God has made us strong. Just like seeing, hearing, we can use our strength for good or evil.  I don't understand the last statement, "I am not ask what I do ..." Could you please elaborate on this?
 
And why does God distinguish between His power and His bounty? 
With His power we do good, with His bountry we disobey Him. 
 
 

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2 hours ago, SoRoUsH said:

I don't understand the last statement, "I am not ask what I do ..." Could you please elaborate on this?

Meaning, we do not judge Allah for His actions, rather He judges us for our actions. He won't be held responsible for what He does, but we will be held responsible by Him for what we do.

 

2 hours ago, SoRoUsH said:
And why does God distinguish between His power and His bounty? 
With His power we do good, with His bountry we disobey Him. 

Because Allah's fi`l is always good, but we take the ni`ma He gave to us and we make poor choices with it. For example, He gives one the ni`ma of money, but that person spends it on evil. Etc.

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