Is Matter Neither Created nor Destroyed?

Answered by Shaykh Irshaad Sedick

Question

I study the water cycle. The underlying principle of this cycle is the “law of conservation.” This means that within a closed system (this case, the cycle), no water is being “created or destroyed.” It just moves from one state to another. For example, river water is transformed into a gas (evaporation), forming clouds, rain, etc.

I heard this law is shirk (“matter cannot be created or destroyed”). Would you please clarify, as all my calculations are based on this law, and so is my degree.

Answer

In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate.

May Allah guide every dimension of our lives to that which pleases Him.

Allah is the Creator of everything in existence, including the systems that govern the way creation functions. Matter, the building block of the physical world, is governed by the laws that Allah created for it, including the concept of causality (cause and effect).

Still, Allah is the Creator of every effect and every cause (in reality). It is not incorrect to say that water causes plants to grow, even though it is Allah, because we are at liberty to refer to Allah’s systems in the physical world as long as we know and believe that the only actual cause is Allah.

The Law of Conservation

The Law of Conservation is a system of Allah in this physical world. Allah creates and destroys matter as He wills, but He has chosen to allow matter to function according to that law. As long as you know and believe that it is ultimately only Allah who is in charge, there is no harm in referring to the law of conservation as it is the system by which Allah governs matter, and Allah knows best.

Allah’s System in the Physical World

In His infinite Knowledge and Wisdom, Allah causes the matters of this world to run, following a set of laws that He predetermined for this world. Gravity, for example, necessitates things will remain on the surface of the earth, even though Allah can allow things to float away.

About His system of running the world, Allah says: “[This is] the established way of Allah with those who passed on before; and you will not find in the way of Allah any change.” [Quran, 33:62]

Causality and Islam

The causal relationship is not one of necessity, where every physical cause must produce its effects with clockwork regularity and permanence. Behind and above the level of physical causation lies true causation, which is causation by Allah. As long as the first consideration does not smother out the second, there is no harm in affirming physical causation. [Karaan, Fleeing from Fate to Fate]

I pray this is of benefit and that Allah guides us all.
[Shaykh] Irshaad Sedick
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani 

Shaykh Irshaad Sedick was raised in South Africa in a traditional Muslim family. He graduated from Dar al-Ulum al-Arabiyyah al-Islamiyyah in Strand, Western Cape, under the guidance of the late world-renowned scholar, Shaykh Taha Karaan. 

Shaykh Irshaad received Ijaza from many luminaries of the Islamic world, including Shaykh Taha Karaan, Mawlana Yusuf Karaan, and Mawlana Abdul Hafeez Makki, among others.

He is the author of the text “The Musnad of Ahmad ibn Hanbal: A Hujjah or not?” He has served as the Director of the Discover Islam Centre and Al Jeem Foundation. For the last five years till present, he has served as the Khatib of Masjid Ar-Rashideen, Mowbray, Cape Town.

Shaykh Irshaad has thirteen years of teaching experience at some of the leading Islamic institutes in Cape Town). He is currently building an Islamic online learning and media platform called ‘Isnad Academy’ and pursuing his Master’s degree in the study of Islam at the University of Johannesburg. He has a keen interest in healthy living and fitness.