‘ILLAH – عِلّة
Literally: Real, effective and basic cause.
As a Sharî’ah term: The underlying cause or element (ratio legislation) on which a new ruling is based by making parallel to an established ruling through qiyas (analogy).
“Since causes are extremely commonplace and impotent and the effects attributed to them are most valuable and full of art, this dismisses causes. The aims and benefits of effects also discharge ignorant and lifeless causes, and hand them over to a Sâni’ Al-Hakîm.” The Words ( 712-713)
“It sometimes happens that in order to disallow apparent causes the ability to create and to demonstrate how far they are from this, an âyah points out the aims and fruits of the effects so that it may be understood that causes are only an apparent veil. For to will that most wise and purposeful aims are followed, and important results are obtained, is of necessity the work of one who is ‘Alîm and Hakîm. Whereas causes are lifeless and without intelligence. So by mentioning the aims and results, such âyahs show that although causes are superficially and as beings joined to and adjacent to their effects, in haqiqah there is a great distance between them. The distance from the cause to the creation of the effect is so great that the hand of the greatest causes cannot reach the creation of the most insignificant effects. Thus, it is within this long-distance between cause and effect that the Ilahî Names, each rise like stars. The place of their rising is this ma’nawî distance. To the superficial glance mountains on the horizon appear to be joined to and contiguous with the skirts of the sky, although from the mountains to the sky is a vast distance in which the stars rise and other things are situated; so too the ma’nawî distance between causes and effects is such that it may be seen only with the nûr of the Qur'an through the telescope of îmân. For example:
فَلْيَنْظُرِ اْلاِنْسَانُ اِلَى طَعَامِهِ اَنَّا صَبَبْنَا الْمَاءَ صَبًّا ثُمَّ شَقَقْنَا اْلاَرْضَ شَقًّا فَاَنْبَتْنَا فِيهَا حَبًّا وَ عِنَبًا وَ قَضْبًا وَ زَيْتُونًا وَ نَخْلاً وَ حَدَائِقَ غُلْبًا وَ فَاكِهَةً وَ اَبًّا مَتَاعًا لَكُمْ وَ لاَنْعَامِكُمْ1
By mentioning miracles of Ilahî Qoudrah in a sequence with hikmah, this âyah ties causes to effects and with the words, For use and convenience to you points to an aim at its conclusion. This aim proves that within the sequence of all the causes and effects is a hidden Mutasarrif who sees and follows the aim, to whom the causes are a veil. Indeed, with the phrase,مَتَاعًا لَكُمْ وَ لاَنْعَامِكُمْ , it disallows all the causes the ability to create. It is saying in a ma’nawî manner: "Rain comes from the sky in order to produce rizq for you and your animals. Since water does not possess the ability to pity you and produce rizq, it means that the rain does not come, it is sent. And the earth produces plants and your rizq comes from there. But lacking feelings and intelligence, it is far beyond the ability of the earth to think of your rizq and feel compassion for you. So it does not produce it itself and someone opens that door and gives ni’mahs to your hands. Furthermore, since it is remote from plants and trees to consider your rizq and compassionately produce fruits and grains for you, the âyah demonstrates that they are strings and ropes which One Hakîm and Rahîm extends from behind the veil, to which He attaches His ni’mahs and holds out to animate creatures." Thus, from this explanation, numerous Ilahî Names rise, like Rahîm, Razzâq, Mun’im and Karîm.” The Words ( 435 )
“The hikmah of an ordinance is one thing, while real cause (‘illah) for it is something different. Hikmah and benefit are the cause of its choice, not the means of its being necessitated and created. And real cause (‘illah) is the means for its existence. For example, the salâh is shortened while travelling; two rak'ats are performed. The ‘illah for this rukhsah of the Sharî'ah is the journey, while its hikmah is the hardship. If there is the journey but no hardship, the salâh is still shortened. For there is the real cause (‘illah). But if there is no journey yet hardship, it may not be the real cause (‘illah) for shortening the salâh. Thus, contrary to this haqiqah, the view at this time is to set up the benefit and hikmah in place of the real cause (‘illah), and to make its judgement in accordance with that.” The Words ( 497 )
“What deceives those who perform ‘ibâdah to apparent causes is two things coming together or being together, which is called iktiran; they suppose the two things are real and effective causes (‘illah) for each other. Also, since the non-existence of one thing is the real and effective cause of the ni’mah’s being non-existent, they suppose that the thing's existence is also the real and effective cause of the ni’mah’s existence. They offer their shukr and gratitude to that thing and fall into error. For a ni’mah’s existence results from all the conditions and preliminaries of the ni’mah. Whereas the ni’mah’s non-existence occurs through the non-existence of only a single condition.
For example, someone who does not open the water canal to water a garden is the real and effective cause of the garden drying up and the non-existence of ni’mahs. But the existence of the garden's ni’mahs is dependent on hundreds of conditions besides the man's duty and the ni’mahs come into being through Rabbânî Irâdah and Qoudrah, which are the real and effective cause. Here, understand how clear is the error of this matter and know how wrong are those who perform ‘ibâdah to causes!
Yes, iktiran is one thing and the real and effective cause (‘illah) is another. A ni’mah comes to you. But the intention of a person to bestow it on you is associated with the ni’mah. But it was not the real and effective cause (‘illah). The real and effective cause (‘illah) was the rahmah of Allah. If the man had not intended to give, that ni’mah would not come to you, he would have been the real and effective cause of the ni’mah’s non-existence. But as a consequence of the above rule, the inclination to bestow cannot be the real and effective cause of the ni’mah. It can only be one of the hundreds of conditions.
For example, some of those among the Risale-i Nur students (like Husrev and Re'fet) who have received Janâb-i Haqq’s ni’mahs have confused the iktiran and the real and effective cause (‘illah). They have been extremely grateful to their Ustadh. Whereas, Janâb-i Haqq joined and associated the ni’mah of benefiting from the lessons of Qur'an which He gave to them, and the ni’mah of instructing which He bestowed on their Ustadh. They say: "If our Ustadh had not come here, we would not have received this lesson, so his instruction is the real and effective cause (‘illah) of our benefiting." However, I say:
"O, my Brothers! The ni’mah Janâb-i Haqq bestowed on you and on me came together. The real and effective cause of both ni’mahs is rahmah of Allah. Like you, through confusing the iktiran with the real and effective cause (‘illah), at one time, I too felt much gratefulness towards the hundreds of Risale-i Nur students with diamond pens like you. I would say: 'If it had not been for them, how would a semi-literate unfortunate like myself have served?' Then, I understood that after bestowing on you the sacred ni’mah by means of the pen, He bestowed success on me in this service. He made iktiran one to another; they can not be the real and effective cause (‘illah) of each other. I do not thank you but congratulate you. And you too offer du'â for me and congratulate me, rather than being grateful to me."
It may be understood from this Fourth Matter just how many degrees there are in ghaflah.” The Seventeenth Flash-13th Note- The Fourth Matter
1 (Then let man consider his sustenance. For that, We pour forth water in abundance. And We split the earth into fragments. And We produce therein corn, And grapes and nutritious plants, And olives and dates, And enclosed gardens, dense with lofty trees, And fruits and fodder, For use and convenience to you and your cattle.)