Praying to God for Small Things?
My ego, as the representative of materialist view, said to my heart:
“We live in a universe where natural causes effect things by their very nature. Everything is connected to a particular material natural cause. Hence, you should expect the fruit from the tree, and the harvest from the soil. What is to point of praying to God for things, especially small things?”
At that point, with the light of the Quran, the secret of tawhid opened up. And my heart replied to my ego:
The smallest thing, like the biggest thing, comes directly from the power of the Creator of the universe. There is no other way possible. And the particular natural causes you note are all just a veil, behind which the Creator is acting. For, the smallest things that seem to be the least significant sometimes are ‘bigger’ in terms of its artistry and creation. For instance, a small fly is no less than a cat in terms of its artistic creation. Therefore, it is inaccurate to say that there are “big things” that are in need of God as opposed to “small things” that are supposedly not dependent on God. Rather, we simply have two options before us: everything is either a product of material and natural causes, or are created by One God. The former option is illogical and impossible, and the latter makes absolute sense and is logically necessary. How so? Let us explain.
When you attribute all things to one being, that is, to the Eternally Powerful One, everything is explained very easily. First of all, He clearly has all encompassing knowledge, as demonstrated by the order and wisdom throughout the universe. Such all-encompassing knowledge determines the quantity and quality of everything. Second, that One is clearly infinitely powerful, as demonstrated by the utter ease with which extremely sophisticated and artistic things come into being. It is clear from the way things happen (as we explained in great detail in other treatises) that the One has infinite power. Clearly such all-powerful and all-knowing one can create things extremely easily and swiftly, with the ease and speed of kun fayakun ‘“Be” and it is!’ (Q. 36:82)
The extraordinary ease we see in the universe is clearly result of such comprehensive knowledge and such incredible power.
If we do not attribute the existence of all the things to Someone who is Eternally Powerful [Qadīr al-Azalī] and who knows everything, then it will be impossible to explain the existence of even a smallest thing like a fly. The fly would have to be constituted by the cooperation of the various species of the earth according to a measure that they agreed upon. Moreover, we would have to say that the particles working in that small fly know in detail the purpose of the fly’s creation and its delicate organization. When we reject an Eternally Powerful and Knowing One, we thus end up with such ridiculous claims. Why? It is because natural factors and material causes obviously cannot create out of nothing. Hence, if they are to be the real creators of things, they must be able to create beings by bringing together various things from all over the world.
For instance, a living being contains main elements that are found throughout the world. Indeed, a living being is like a summary of the entire universe. Hence, for instance, the production of one seed requires power over the entire tree. And, the making of a living being requires gathering various things throughout the universe according to a delicate plan. Can natural causes accomplish this? No, because they are ignorant and lifeless. They do not possess knowledge to plan and create a “summary” and to accordingly arrange the particles into a particular mold.
Indeed, we see before our eyes that beings take a particular form, out of innumerable possibilities. The particles come together and constitute a specific form in a very orderly manner, without any physical mold constraining them. The particles unite and collate on top of each other and form an orderly living being. How could material and natural causes be responsible for these events? It is impossible. If you think just a little bit, you will see that it is impossible for material and natural causes to be the real creators of things.
That is why, the great Quranic verse says, Behold, those beings whom you invoke instead of God cannot create [as much as] a fly, even were they to join all their forces to that end! (Q. 22:73). That is, even if all the material causes were to be gathered together, and even if they had will and choice, they would not be able to put forth the existence of one single fly or any of its organs according to a special plan. Even if they were to combine various elements into a fly, they would not be able to keep it in its particular balance. And even if they were to do that, they would not be able to constantly renew and refresh the atoms and particles in a fly’s body and to make them keep up with the continuous work in a harmonious and orderly fashion. In sum, it is clear that these material and natural causes cannot be the real creators of things. Someone else is their real maker [al-Sāhib al-Haqiqī ]
 Excerpted from Said Nursi, Flashes, 26th Flash.
 The phrase kun fayakun is mentioned in a number of Quranic verses, “when He wills a thing to be, He but says unto it, “Be” — and it is.” (Q. 36:82, see also Q. 2:117, 2:163, 40:68). Said Nursi interprets this Quranic description as emphasizing God’s infinite power and knowledge. Regarding this passage, the eleventh century Muslim scholar Ghazali had said “The outward meaning of this verse is not possible because if the saying of God ‘Be’ was addressed to the thing before that thing came into existence, then it would simply be an impossibility since the non-existent does not understand address and, therefore, cannot obey. And if it was addressed to the thing after the thing has come into existence, then it would be superfluous, since the thing is already in existence and does not need to be brought into being.” Thus, the verse must be interpreted as a metaphor for “conveying the idea of greatest power.” (Ghazali, Foundations of the Articles of Faith, 44-45.) Similarly, for the idea that things coming into being as an instant response to God’s command is an effective imagery for articulating God’s immense power, before which there is no resistance from anything. The verse thus expresses that the willed thing is brought into existence by the Creator with utter ease, without any trouble or delay. For, nothing can be difficult before an infinite power and knowledge.