Do we believe in karma? - 30 Verses For 30 Days 13/30

Salamun 'Alaykum, dear brothers and sisters, and welcome to the 13th Tafsir Clip of this month of Ramadan. And in this clip, we are going to delve into a short topic, and that is, do we believe in the concept of Karma?

This is a word that we find it is used commonly, it is part of our language nowadays. Many times when you see someone doing something wrong and then, for example, you see this person who is being punished by society, by nature, by the events that take place in his life, we might refer to this as Karma. Or a person who does something good, and then he is rewarded by the incidents and events that take place in his life. And so the question is, do we believe in this in Islam? Do we agree with it? Is it something that is rooted within our religion as well or not?

For this, we are going to go to verse 40 from Surat ur-Ra'd. Allah, Subhana wa Ta'ala, is speaking to his Prophet, and He is making it clear that these disbelievers, even though, ya Rasul Allah, they disobey us and they do all these terrible things, know that their punishment is going to come to them. Whether it comes to them soon, or it comes to them late, there is definitely going to be a point, where they will be held accountable, and they will have to deal with the consequences of what they have done.

'A'udhu bi-Llahi min al-Shaytan al-rajim. "Wa in ma nuriyannaka ba'da alladhi na'iduhum" (13:40), 'Ya Rasul Allah,' Either you are alive when these individuals, their punishment is sent their way'. In other words, you get to see the negative results and consequences of their deeds. "Aw natawaffayyannaka" (13:40), 'or maybe you do not get to see it while you are alive. We take you away from this world and then the punishment is sent down'. But either way, "fa innama 'alayka al-balagh'- 'know that you only have to take care of spreading the message', 'wa 'alayna al-hisab'(13:40), 'and We will have the reckoning, We will have the accountability that We will take care of.'

What the Verse is saying, in other words, is that when these people do the wrong things that they are doing, they will inevitably see the result of their bad deed, sometimes immediately, sometimes in a longer time.

So going back to the main question, Karma, do we believe in it? Of course, when we say Karma, this is a deeply embedded belief in certain religions. I do not mean to speak of it in the technical sense of the word, like we have in Buddhism and Hinduism, and some other religions as well. What we are referring to here is just seeing the results of our deeds. Do we believe in this?

Technically, yes. But not in the sense that if you do something good, you would necessarily see the result immediately. So when we say Karma, usually what we are talking about is that you will see the result immediately. That is not what the Qur'an says. In fact, the Qur'an, as we are reading in verse 40 of Surat ur-Ra'd, it is saying no. Sometimes the result might take a while for it to show up. Yes, Ya Rasul Allah, either you see it while you are alive, or maybe you are gone, and then the punishment comes.

So what we do believe is that the punishment will definitely be there. If I do something good, the results will definitely be there. But where we differ in terms of this concept of Karma is that the reward or the punishment, it may not show up immediately, sometimes it might take years before it shows up.

Sometimes it shows up and that person may not even realize that this is a punishment of something that they had done, or this is the reward of something that they had done. So, to a certain degree, we agree, to a certain degree, there are differences of our understanding of this concept of Karma.

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