91. Al-Dharr الضار

Allah (SwT) has said,

Say: I do not control for myself any harm, nor can I benefit myself in aught except what Allah pleases. (Qur’an, 10:49)

Both al-Dharr and al-Nafi’‎ are among the Attributes of Allah (SwT).

Most references wherein these Attributes are discussed have combined both Attributes together. Combining both of these Attributes is better: It conveys a stronger meaning of the Almighty’s Power to do whatever He pleases, however He wills; none benefits nor harms others besides Him.

Language says that Dharr ضر (أو ضرر), harm, is the opposite of naf ‘نفع, benefit or advantage. Allah (SwT) is al-Dharr, that is, the One Who can harm anyone He wants, in any way He wishes; He impoverishes some of His servants or causes them to fall prey to sickness according to His wisdom; so, He determines everything.

He alone facilitates the means of harm as a trial from Him whereby He purges the sins or subjects one of His servants to a test in order to raise his status. He decrees harm to some of His servants and affects His decree through certain means. He is the Wise One in whatever He does, the most Merciful in His judgment.

If He decrees some harm, it is only for the sake of the general good, and if He decrees an ailment, it is but the useful medicine in the life of this world and the life hereafter.

Allah (SwT) has said,

“If Allah touches you with affliction, there is none to remove it but He...” (Qur’an, 6:17).

Prophet Moses (‘a) once complained to his Lord about a tooth-ache, so the Almighty instructed him to apply a certain type of herb on the area of his pain, which he did, and the aching stopped. A few days later, the same pain came back to him, so he went and took the same herb and applied it, but this time his pain intensified many times more.

He complained to Allah (SwT) saying,”Lord! Did You not order me to apply this type of herb and tell me where I could find it?” The Almighty inspired him,”O Moses! I am the One Who heals and Who grants good health; I am the One Who causes harm and Who benefits. You came to Me the first time, so I removed the cause of your ailment, whereas this time you went to the plant (on your own) instead and did not come to Me.”

The Messenger of Allah (S) has said,”Anyone who claims that Allah (SwT) commands the doing of wrong deeds and of sins tells lies about Allah (SwT). And anyone who claims that goodness and evil are possible without the will of Allah (SwT) strips Allah (SwT) of His Authority.

And anyone who claims that sins are committed without Allah (SwT)’s Might tells a lie about Allah (SwT), and whoever tells lies about Allah (SwT), He will lodge him into the fire.” In this tradition, by goodness and evil he means health and sickness respectively due to this verse:

“...We try you by evil and by good by way of probation” (Qur’an, 21:35).

Imam al-Baqir is quoted as saying,”Allah (SwT), the Exalted and the Great, is more compassionate towards His creation than forcing them to commit sins then penalizing them for doing so, and Allah (SwT) is more Mighty than willing to do something and it does not take place.” He was asked once whether there was a distance between compulsion and destiny, and his answer was,”Yes!

One is more distant than the distance between the heavens and the earth!” He has also said,”There should neither be compulsion nor an unrestricted freedom; the best course is a middle one.” The West has been plagued by unrestricted freedom, folks, and I am telling you this because I lived there for a third of a century and observed the results of such freedom! Anyway, when the Imam was asked about the middle course, he said,”Let me give you an example: You may see a man committing a sin, and you may try to stop him from doing so but he refuses to desist, whereupon you leave him to commit that sin.

When he does not listen to you but insists on sinning, it does not mean that you yourself have encouraged him to commit that sin.”