Praise be to Allah, Lord of the worlds, and the most honorable prayer and peace be upon the master of the first and the last, our master, Muhammad, the chosen, the trustworthy, and upon his pious and pure family, his faithful companions, and those who followed them in goodness until the Day of Judgment, may Allah Almighty be pleased with them all.
Allah says in the Qur’an: “And it was an incumbent duty upon Us to give victory to the believers” (Surah 30, ayah 47), and he says: “Then we shall save Our Messengers and the believers. It is Our obligated duty, We shall save those who believe” (Surah 10, ayah 103). With these sacred ayahs of the Qur’an, a question may arise. If Allah is all-powerful and everything is in the space of his mighty ability, why do we see Muslim people who are suffering under tyrant regimes and these regimes are inflicting tortures and atrocities, such as what we see in Syria? To answer this question we have to differentiate between the universal codes, which Allah demonstrated in the Qur’an, and between the exceptions, some of which Allah stated in the Qur’an, such as what happened to Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham), Yunus (Jonah), Moses, Jesus and other Prophets, peace and blessings of Allah be upon them all.
Allah created this universe and put extremely strict natural codes. Many Qur’anic ayahs are explaining these codes, such as the circle of day and night, the clouds pouring rains on the dry lands and how the plants grow, as well as other examples which Allah gave to us to ponder and reflect upon. There is an interesting example used by Muslim preachers; ‘if a believer and a non-believer were thrown in the sea, who is going to survive?’ The answer is definitely ‘the one who is a good swimmer!’ This example gives us a clear idea that the natural laws or the universal codes are always working, but if Allah breaks that code for someone then it is an exception and this exception cannot be regarded as a rule.
Some Muslims, individuals or groups, believe that Allah is always going to break His natural laws for them, as if they took a promise from Allah that He will do so. A fast reading of the biography of the Prophet peace be upon him will give us an insight about how things work. When he, the Prophet, was sent, his people denied his message; moreover, they tried to kill him or expel him out of Mecca. When he migrated to Medina, he went out with his companion, Abu Bakr, may Allah be pleased with him, and they took a different path to Medina. The disbelievers followed them and almost caught them, but they finally made it to Medina. Now, Muhammed is Allah’s messenger, and Allah could do anything to keep His noble messenger safe. If so, why should Muhammed take that dangerous decision and expose himself to death? He could ask Allah to do things for him! That is not how things work. Another clear example is the story of the ‘companions of the pit’. They were true believers and their ruler was a tyrant disbeliever, and he killed all the believers, and no one said that Allah had forsaken those believers, because the natural law, which Allah has put in this world, works on cause and effect. Allah gives all his human creation free will and those who chose evil are free to carry it out except in rare circumstances where Allah breaks his natural law and stops them. But for the most part Allah allows men and women to choose good or evil, and good people routinely suffer as a result. This does not mean that Allah leaves us without comfort and guidance in those situations. The believers killed by this tyrant went to Paradise and are recompensed far more than they suffered. We always need to remember, Allah is just in the end, but his timeline differs greatly from ours.
The battle of Badr, which was the first battle for Muslims against the disbelievers, also carries a great example. Prophet Muhammed, peace be upon him, was choosing a place to set the camp for his humble army. He chose a place before the wells of Badr. A companion, who was experienced in war it seemed, asked him: ‘O messenger of Allah, is it a place revealed to you from Allah, or is it war and deceit?’ The Prophet, peace be upon him said: ‘verily it is war and deceit’. The companion then said: ‘Then a place after the wells of Badr is the best, we would drink and they (the enemy) would not’. After receiving this great worldly advice, the Prophet, peace be upon him told his army to follow what that companion suggested.
We have to understand the concept of the support of Allah in the correct context. The Qur’an is clear about cause and effect, as Allah said: “Muster against them whatever you are able of force and tethers (ropes) of horses, so that you strike terror into the enemies of Allah and your enemy, and others besides them whom you do not know but Allah does. All that you spend in the Way of Allah shall be repaid to you. You shall not be wronged” (Surah 8, ayah 60). The Prophet peace be upon him was wounded in a war and his tooth was broken, and he lost his beloved wife Khadijah and his uncle, the greatest supporter, Abu Talib. Was he not wronged? Or is Allah making this promise with the fulfillment of our eternal life in mind.
While in this world, according to the natural laws put into motion by Allah, the Muslim, as an individual has to make full use of all available means. If you feel sick you have to visit the doctor, and you have to take the medicine he prescribes for you to heal yourself. You can pray as well and Allah may make your body heal itself as a result, but his ways are to use our actions for the most part to decide our day to day fates in this world. Muslims, as a whole, have to take into consideration the example of other nations in the world; how they are advancing in modern technology, how they obtained the cutting-edge inventions which are very useful to humanity. They did this by educating themselves as the first verses of the Quran urge and by studying and applying themselves diligently versus waiting for Allah to perform miracles on their behalf.
Miracles are things that defy natural law, and they are usually brought by a prophet or a messenger, accompanied by his allegation that he was sent by God, as well as challenging his people to make something similar to that miracle—so that they would be convinced of the prophet’s message. Scholars say that miracles are performed by prophets and messengers, and only rarely they may also happen for true believers. In the latter case they would be called ‘karama’. As the Prophet Mohammed was the last of the prophets, scholars say that the age of miracles has gone now, and only ‘karama’ may happen for true believers and only by Allah’s permission, and no one knows when they will be granted. Even when it happens, it would be the exception, not the rule. You cannot live your life depending on the exception to happen, as this is wrong. You must live according to natural laws although always praying and asking Allah to grant you the exception when it’s needed knowing that Allah is faithful in all things at all times according to his wisdom and plans for you.