Quranic Reflection No. 398. Ayat 6:17 – Only Allah (swt) is in control

وَإِنْ يَمْسَسْكَ اللَّهُ بِضُرٍّ فَلَا كَاشِفَ لَهُ إِلَّا هُوَ ۖ وَإِنْ يَمْسَسْكَ بِخَيْرٍ فَهُوَ عَلَىٰ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدِيرٌ
Wa-in yamsaskal-lāhu bi-dhurrin falā kāshifa lahu illā huwa, wa-in yamsaska bikhayrin fahuwa ‘alā kulli shay’in qadīr
Should Allah visit you with some distress there is no one to remove it except Him; and should He bring you some good, then He has power over all things.
(Sūrat al-An‘ām, No. 6, Āyat 17)

The above verse is an extension of an essential theme of the Quran – the belief in pure monotheism. No-one but Allah subhānahu wa-ta‘ālā has the power to remove any distress or to cause any good to befall us. It is absurd for a believer who sees himself as a servant of Allah ‘azza wa-jall to associate anyone other than God as the cause behind any good that reaches him or any evil that is averted from him. All hope must lie in Allah (swt) and all fear must be from Him only.

When we see others as bringing us happiness or success we set them up as independent causes. We make them in line with God. This is also true when we fear, or are in awe of, people with some form of power. We believe they have the ability to hurt us. This means succumbing to their outer facade of invincibility, which makes us forget that ultimately it is God who is in control.

Note that the verse uses the word ‘dhurr’ which means distress. This is not evil, for Almighty Allah does not create evil. Those who see all forms of distress as evil and cannot attribute evil to God have been forced to resort to dualism. They believe in one source of good and another source of evil, thereby believing in two gods. Islam teaches that Allah (swt) does not cause evil. All forms of so called evil are deficiencies and imperfections. Shahīd Murtadhā Mutahharī in his book Divine Justice explains that ‘that that which is evil is not of the form of being, but of the form of emptiness and non-being’. The non-existence of health, peace, justice . . . are classified as evil. A detailed discussion of understanding evil is beyond the scope of this Reflection.

What the word ‘dhurr’ implies here is something that is unpleasant and difficult to bear which God has let happen to us. It is from the mercy of God. The reasons behind it could be for training of the soul, to purify it, to make it grow and challenge it to new heights. Allah ‘azza wa-jall wills it for us, but He has the power to remove it if He wishes. He alone can do that. Those who seemingly remove the distress for us are the means for Allah (swt) to accomplish His purpose.

The God who is alone in control of all good and aversion of all distress is worthy of worship. Human beings cannot submit to gods who have no power or control. Such a being is not worthy of servitude. This concept is true monotheism. Associating any good as coming directly and fully from another human being, or a cause other than Allah, falls into the realm of polytheism.

Recite this verse to remind yourself that all good and removal of distress is in God’s hands. Do not place any hope in other than Him for only He is in control. It will give you a lot of peace. Focusing on God alone will liberate you from many debilitating chains.

Sources: Āyatullāh Nāsir Makārim Shirāzī (Ed), Tafsīr-e Namūneh; Agha Muhsin Qarā’atī, Tafsīr Nūr; http://www.alketab.org/