Understanding Allah’s Universal Laws in the Quran

A Thematic Interpretation of the Quran - 5

We’re going to discuss this time the universal laws of God (Al-Sunan Rabaniyyah). Allah created this universe according to a number of laws. He says in the Quran:

{… But you will never find in the way of Allah any change, and you will never find in the way of Allah any alteration.} (35:43)

The universal laws are mentioned by the term “sunan” in six or seven places. But the universal laws of Allah are a major theme of the Quran because they’re mentioned in many ways of showing that they are laws.

Law of Condition

When Allah gives a cause and an effect, or a conditional statement as they say in Arabic, that this will not happen unless this happens. For example:

… Indeed, Allah will not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves… (13:11)

This is a universal law because He is giving a condition here. Also when there is a consequence:

… and seized those who wronged, with a wretched punishment, because they were defiantly disobeying. (7:165)

So there is a consequence of injustice which is trials and corruption on earth. So there is something that human beings do, and then there is a consequence. Allah says this is always the case:

And We did not send into a city any warner except that its affluent said, “Indeed we, in that with which you were sent, are disbelievers.” (34:34)

The people that are basically in the life of luxury, people who are too much in the indulgence of lives… these people always say that, “we do not believe in the Prophets”, because the truth would impact the way they do life.

And this is a universal law that the Prophets always start with the weakest in their societies, people who could see the truth despite the fact that they are poor or they are disadvantaged in the society, but they have enough intelligence to see the truth.

And then eventually, the laws of Allah would dictate that some other people would start to see the truth from the powerful in the society, and that is when the truth starts to be fortified and starts to prevail.

Allah had made these laws consistent for both worlds: the natural world, and the human world. These laws are not only for us as humans in terms of societies, but the same laws apply to nature.

Law of Communities

Allah discussed in the Quran, for example, the law of community. He says:

And there is no creature on [or within] the earth or bird that flies with its wings except [that they are] communities like you. We have not neglected in the Register a thing. Then unto their Lord they will be gathered. (6:38)

This law of communities is a universal law; it’s not just humans, but everybody. If you think deeply about that, you will find a philosophical basis, if you wish, for a number of biological sciences that is different from the philosophical basis, from the material philosophy, or from the approach that doesn’t believe in a higher being that gives the universe laws.

For example, in the neuroscience literature, you will see that most neuroscientists don’t believe in consciousness outside the human being. Or if they believe in consciousness for animals, they don’t believe in it for plants.

The Quran is telling us that all of this is aware of Allah; animal, plants, insects, marine life… Everybody has their own way of making sujud and glorifying Allah. They understand, they have a memory.

They have their communal way of leadership and their communal way of finding their ways in forests, in nature in order for them to live their lives.

That basis is a different basis because it gives us a different respect and a different kind of approach to the natural biological communities that’s different from the approach of using them as some sort of a utility only, and that is a very different approach.

When Allah has told us that He taught Adam the names, and that the Prophets from Adam until Muhammad (peace be upon him) brought faith and morality as a message to people.

Allah talked about a number of these civilizations from the time of Noah, when he built a whole ship. That is a different philosophical basis from the schools of anthropological sciences that look at humans at the early stages as primitive and be very surprised if they have some complex tool that is a very simple stone tool. That is different from what the Quran is telling us.

Or the claim of Egyptologists, that it was the Egyptians who invented the unity, or the oneness of God, it was them who invented the thought of the afterlife. All of this is contradictory to what the Quran is saying as sunan (universal laws) as how history evolved.

History evolved in cycles up and down. Yes, perhaps after the time of Noah (peace be upon him) humanity had to start again somewhere primitive, but it’s always in these cycles. It is not that the first human knew no language, no God, and no law, and it was the Iraqis, the Egyptians, and the Phoenicians who started to do that. That is a different kind of a philosophy of science when it comes to sciences that have to do with history and anthropology.

That sunan are important at the basis of these sciences so that we approach them in a way that is Islamic and that does not bring philosophies that don’t belong to Islam.

The evolution, not as a fact, it’s a fact that every scientist agrees to, but as a belief or as a religion is a different story, where we only think that it’s only us, human beings, homosapiens on earth and everybody else before us were kind of ancestors for us and then we evolved from them.

That is a different philosophy from what Allah is giving us in the Quran. A sunnah of being successors. Adam was a successor of creatures before Adam that lived on earth. Allah told us about the Jinn that lived on earth before Adam, for example.

When we find sculls or when we find remains of civilizations that have been on earth for two hundred million years, it’s a different philosophy from the Islamic philosophy to interpret them in a way of evolution vs. in a way of cyclical succession that Allah is telling is a sunnah, a universal law, that after every specie, Allah creates a different specie and sends it to earth.

Socially, as well, the universal laws have to do with how Allah created the universe in terms of societies.

Laws of Victory

There are laws for victory, those who seek victory on any dimension: you have to have patience and perseverance, you have to work towards that victory. You have to give victory to Allah so that Allah gives you victory.

You have to be united, not only in battlefield, but everywhere, in order for people to have access to success and victory and what the Quran calls Al Falah. They have to be united, they can’t destroy themselves from within through their differences and their conflicts. And this is a universal law.

The Law of Providence

When Allah talked about the laws of providence, He is also giving us a law that if we thank Him, He will provide for us. And if we reform and rectify earth, He will keep earth as nurturing and as providing as ever. But if we start to corrupt earth, then earth will retaliate with corruption because this is the corruption that we had planted the seeds of in the earth.

Therefore, the universal laws are an important theme of the Quran. And when we read the Quran, we should notice these conditional statements and these consequential statements and these facts that Allah had given us so that we have the bigger picture, the bigger universal laws in our minds.

And they are very important because aligning ourselves with them, aligning our rules, aligning our morality, aligning our planning, aligning our understanding with the universal laws of Allah is the Quranic wisdom behind that theme of universal laws.

We ask Allah to guide us.

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About Dr. Jasser Auda
Jasser Auda is a Professor and Al-Shatibi Chair of Maqasid Studies at the International Peace College South Africa, the Executive Director of the Maqasid Institute, a global think tank based in London, and a Visiting Professor of Islamic Law at Carleton University in Canada. He is a Founding and Board Member of the International Union of Muslim Scholars, Member of the European Council for Fatwa and Research, Fellow of the Islamic Fiqh Academy of India, and General Secretary of Yaqazat Feker, a popular youth organization in Egypt. He has a PhD in the philosophy of Islamic law from University of Wales in the UK, and a PhD in systems analysis from University of Waterloo in Canada. Early in his life, he memorized the Quran and studied Fiqh, Usul and Hadith in the halaqas of Al-Azhar Mosque in Cairo. He previously worked as: Founding Director of the Maqasid Center in the Philosophy of Islamic Law in London; Founding Deputy Director of the Center for Islamic Ethics in Doha; professor at the University of Waterloo in Canada, Alexandria University in Egypt, Islamic University of Novi Pazar in Sanjaq, Qatar Faculty of Islamic Studies, and the American University of Sharjah. He lectured and trained on Islam, its law, spirituality and ethics in dozens of other universities and organizations around the world. He wrote 25 books in Arabic and English, some of which were translated to 25 languages.