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E. LUTF ‑ THE GRACE OF GOD

E. LUTF ‑ THE GRACE OF GOD

 If a person can do some thing good to someone without harming any other person and still he does not do so, then his reluctance from helping the others is against virtue, it is evil. Therefore, if God can do any thing beneficial for His creatures and then suppose that He does not do so, it will be against the virtue of God, and not commendable. It is for this reason we believe that "it is morally in­cumbent upon Allah to do every act of lutf (grace) in dealing with mankind." [9]

 What is the meaning of lutf which has been roughly translated above as "grace"? Lutf is the

action on part of God which would help to bring His creatures nearer to His devotion and‑obedience, and facilitate moral correction. It must be mentioned here that "Allah has ordered us to be just, but He Himself treats us with something better than justice, names tafaddul‑grace." (Tafaddul has same meaning as lutf.)

 The belief that lutf is morally incumbent upon God is the distinctive belief of the Shi'ah Ithna­'Asharis. The Sunnis do not believe that lutf is in­cumbent upon God. They say that even justice (‘adl) is not incumbent upon God, let alone lutf. According to the examples given by them, if God sends good and virtuous persons to Hell and sends Satan to Paradise, it will be quite right. There would be noth­ing wrong.

 Both tawfiq and lutf, as mentioned above, are primarily meant to help the individuals or the groups in obeying the commandments of God. However, sometimes such help is offered to an obstinate person not because he is expected to take its advantage and perform his duties, but just to close the door of argument, to refute all his excuses, so that he may not claim that had he been given a bit of encouragement, he would have been an obedient servant of God. This type of help is known as itmamu 'l‑hujjat.

 Some examples of lutf: Now we know that God created us to acquire virtues in this life so that we may be nearer to God in the hereafter. The question is: How are we to know what is virtue and what is evil? Human intellect does appreciate inherent vir­tue or evil of many of our actions, but can we expect everybody to act according to the perfect reason? Certainly not. Many are the times when desire or anger suppresses the voice of wisdom; many are the times when an immediate benefit (obtainable by evil means) seems more impressive than the fear of con­demnation by society or losing the grace of God in the life after death.

If God had left mankind without any effective device to check their evil thoughts and desires, it would have been tantamount to defeating His own purpose. Therefore, He laid down some rules and sent the Prophets and Imams to bring those rules to His creatures, and to explain and protect those laws from corruption.

 And He did not leave us at that, He also ap­pointed a day when all will be gathered to give account of their beliefs and actions. And, He, in His mercy and justice, sent us the news that there was to be a Day of Reckoning, a Day of Judgement, a Day of Rewards and Punishments. This information helps the creatures in obeying those laws which were brought by the prophets.

 Thus sending the shari'ah is a lutf which helps the mankind to achieve the purpose of life. Also, send­ing the prophets and the Imams, and appointing a Day of judgement are lutf for the same reason. And because these acts are lutf, they are incumbent upon God.

 * * * * *

 The rules of the shari'ah are called taklif. Taklif  literally means to put in hardship. As any law, thought it may be the simplest one, appears to human nature as a 'hardship; the shari’ah is called taklif. (By the way, lawlessness in the end brings real hardship and calamities, while the law brings peace and happiness.)

 Though the rules of the shari'ah are called 'hardship,' in reality they are well below our strength and ability. God says, "On on soul does Allah place a burden but less than its capacity."(2:286) Imam Ja'far as‑Sadiq (peace be upon him) said,

"Allah did not give orders to His servants but that they were less than their strength ...Because He told them to pray five times a day, fast one month in a year, pay zakat five dirhams in two hundred and to go to hajj once in a life; but the people have strength to do more than this minimum." [10]

 Significantly, the word used‑in the above verse is not taqdt‑strength and ability, but wus' which car­ries the idea of "ease" and "comfort" and here means "less than its strength or capacity. This is one aspect of God's infinite mercy as He says, "'Allah intends every facility for you and He does not want to put you in difficulties." (2:185) Some more explanation about the shari'ah will be given in Chapter Three.

 Notes:

[1]. Shibli Nu'mani, 'Ilmu 'l‑Kalam, p. 28.

 

[2] al‑Ghazali, lhya 'Ulumi 'd‑Din (Kitab Qawa'idu'l‑'Aqad), vol,1, p.193; also see al‑Ash'ari, Kitab 'l‑Luma', p. 53,239.

 

[3] Shibli Nu'mani, 'Ilmu 'l‑Kalam, p. 25.

 

[4] as‑Saduq, al‑I'tiqadat, chp. 4, p. 58.

 

[5] Ibid, chp. 5, p. 58.

 

[6] al‑Khui, al‑Bayan fi Tafsiri'l‑Qur an, p.102. This example has been slightly modified by us.

 

[7] as‑Saduq,  al‑I'tiqadat, chp. 9, p. 60.

 

[8]. at‑Tabrasi, al‑Ihtijaj vol. 2, pp. 387‑388; al‑Majisi, Biharu l-Anwar, vol. 5, p. 4, 27.

 

[9] al‑Hilli, al‑Babu 'l‑Hadi 'Ashar, p. 99

 

[10] as‑Saduq, Risalatu'l‑I'tiqadat, chp. 3, p. 57

 

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