What are the opinions about the verse “What comes to you of evil, is from yourself”?

Details of the Question

“مَّا أَصَابَكَ مِنْ حَسَنَةٍ فَمِنَ اللّهِ وَمَا أَصَابَكَ مِن سَيِّئَةٍ فَمِن نَّفْسِكَ / What comes to you of good is from Allah, but what comes to you of evil, [O man], is from yourself. And We have sent you, [O Muhammad], to the people as a messenger, and sufficient is Allah as Witness.” (Surah an-Nisa 4/79) Would you tell us the views of Ahl as-Sunnah and Mutazila sects about this verse? Could you please explain the answers given to the views Mutazila sect on this verse? The verse clearly states that whatever evil touches you is from yourself. How can you answer Mutazila's argument?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

The meaning of the related verses is as follows:

“Wherever you may be, death will overtake you, even if you should be within towers of lofty construction. But if good comes to them, they say, "This is from Allah "; and if evil befalls them, they say, "This is from you." Say, "All [things] are from Allah." So what is [the matter] with those people that they can hardly understand any statement? What comes to you of good is from Allah, but what comes to you of evil, [O man], is from yourself. And We have sent you, [O Muhammad], to the people as a messenger, and sufficient is Allah as Witness. (Surah an-Nisa 4/78-79)

Especially when the Jews prospered, and when their health, earnings and products were good – because they considered themselves distinguished servants of Allah -they would say, “This is from Allah.” However, if things went wrong, they would attribute it to the bad luck caused by the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) – God forbid -claiming that it was because of him. With this verse, the truth about the issue of good and evil is told once again to them and to all humanity.

“All good and evil are from Allah.” The meaning of this verse is as follows: It is Allah who creates both good and evil. The principle of the Ahl as-Sunnah sect ”Allah is the creator of good and evil” is an explanation of such verses.

"What comes to you of good is from Allah, but what comes to you of evil, [O man], is from yourself." Attention is drawn not to the creation of Allah but to the point that concerns the partial free will of people in the verse of the Qur'an above.

Whether it is good or evil, every deed has an aspect that concerns man and Allah. While man is in the position of being a cause and a means with their partial will, Allah is in the position of the Creator who creates everything with His universal will. If a division is made between cause and creation, man has no power to contribute to the deed of creation. It is Allah who creates both good and evil.

In the phase of “the sphere of causes”, which is the name of the process up to the point of creating deeds, the will of the human being contributes.

However, since good deeds need to be created existentially, there is not much contribution of the people's partial will in them. For example, giving an apple to a poor person is a favor. Since 99% of this favor needs to be created, it belongs to Allah. It is Allah who created the apple and ripened it, and it is Allah who gave man’s heart the feeling of doing good to give it to the poor, and the hands and feet that carry the apple. “All good and evil are from Allah.” (Surah an-Nisa 4/78) This point is noted in this verse.

As for the deed of evil, it is based on nonexistence; since it also includes points that are not based on creation, people can claim and own them. For example, it is stated in the hadith that even two-rak'ah sunnah -not fard - of the morning prayer is more valuable than the world.

Nevertheless, a person can eliminate such a deed of worship without doing anything. He can commit a great evil by lying in his bed, skipping this prayer, which is more precious than this world, without any effort.

That is the soul of the person who wants this evil, and the laziness of the person who commits it. For this reason, this evil is attributed to man.

This aspect of evil is pointed in the following verse: “What comes to you of good is from Allah, but what comes to you of evil, [O man], is from yourself. (Surah an-Nisa 4/79)

It is clearly understood from these explanations that it is Allah who creates both evil and good. Man is indeed the owner of evil only. That is to say, the good deeds of man are a grace of Allah, and his evil deeds are his own gain.

To sum up:

If people get a good result and achieve success in matters left to their will, it is understood that they have correctly used the wisdom, knowledge, will and power that Allah has given them. All good things and favors are from Allah because Allah desires them and is pleased with them, and He gave people the abilities to achieve these good results.  

People do not use their mind, knowledge, will and power – all of which are given to them by Allah - properly and correctly related to the matters, fields and deeds left to their will and preference. Therefore, if they achieve results that Allah will not be pleased with and they themselves do not like, these results (evil deeds) are from them; they caused them themselves. Evil cannot be attributed to Allah and it cannot be said that “it is from Him” because He does not show consent to evil even though He gives the opportunity.

It is clear from these explanations that the realities highlighted in these verses are an indelible seal affirming the righteousness of the Ahl as-Sunnah and a failure for the Mutazila sect.

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