Have you ever experienced a moment when someone reminds you about karma if you do something bad? This phenomena is quite common in our society, but perhaps just few of us know that karma is a concept coming from Hinduism and Buddhism. Shortly, karma means what we’ll gain is the result of what we’ve done, no matter the bad or the good one.
The things happening right now in the present is a recompense of the things we’ve acted in the past, so does the things which will happen in the future also a recompense of things we act in the present. Therefore, karma is often called as a concept of causality.
That concept of causality in karma is closely related to the concept of reincarnation. Humans live more than once in this world. The previous, present, and next life are related one another since what humans have done in the previous life will have effects in the next life. And they will only reap it in this world, as Hinduism and Buddhism believe.
Islam as a syumul (comprehensive) deen also teaches us about this concept of ‘we reap what we sow’. Many ayah in Al-Qur’an and hadith explain us about it. One of them is Surah Az-Zalzalah verse 7 and 8,
اِذَا زُلۡزِلَتِ الۡاَرۡضُ زِلۡزَالَهَا وَاَخۡرَجَتِ الۡاَرۡضُ اَثۡقَالَهَا
“So whoever does an atom’s weight of good will see it, and whoever does an atom’s weight of evil will see it.”
The ayah above tells us that everything we do in this life, either good or bad, big or simple, will be reaped someday in another world when Allah becomes the perfect judge with the perfect justice. But, if we do kindness in this world, there are actually surprising benefits of kindness in Islam.
Allah creates humans without no intention. We come to the world to collect good deeds and worship Allah. In doing it, we should also try to avoid sin supported by praying duas to keep away from sin.
And the existence of heaven and hellfire are the reward and consequence we will get upon the mission we have in the world. Which one we’ll place depends on how far we can complete the mission.
However, karma in Islam does not really exist. The concept that we reap what we sow in Islam is different from the original concept of karma. It’s due to some reasons below.
- In Islam, We’re not Permitted to Predict or Guess Ghaib Matters
If we believe in karma, we might think what we get today is the result of what we’ve done in the past. For example, if we’re now poor or sick, it’s the consequence of big sin we did in the past.
But, it’s not as simple as that in Islam. There’s Allah’s intervention in whatever happens in our lives. The hard condition we face in the present may be not because of our act, but it’s a try from Allah to examine our faith. And happiness we get now may be not because of good things we did, but it’s because of Allah’s compassion.
Allah has right upon everything we might not know and He must love us as His creation. If you still doubt it, you’re highly recommended to read quran verses about love of Allah SWT.
قُل لَّا يَعْلَمُ مَن فِى ٱلسَّمَٰوَٰتِ وَٱلْأَرْضِ ٱلْغَيْبَ إِلَّا ٱللَّهُ ۚ وَمَا يَشْعُرُونَ أَيَّانَ يُبْعَثُونَ
“Say, ‘None in the heavens and earth knows the unseen except Allah, and they do not perceive when they will be resurrected.’” (An-Naml: 65)
- There’s no Concept of Reincarnation in Islam
For many times Allah emphasizes in Al-Qur’an that there is another world after this life, and we’ll be permanent there. When we die, there’s no chance to go back to this world. The world where we live now is just a place to collect the things we’ll need in Hereafter (akhirah).
Related to it, we should understand the most rewarding deeds in Islam to optimize our effort. Whatever we get in this life is only temporary; either sadness or happiness will meet their ends. While in Hereafter, anything will last forever. Allah tells about it clearly in Surah Al-Hadid verse 20,
ٱعْلَمُوٓا۟ أَنَّمَا ٱلْحَيَوٰةُ ٱلدُّنْيَا لَعِبٌ وَلَهْوٌ وَزِينَةٌ وَتَفَاخُرٌۢ بَيْنَكُمْ وَتَكَاثُرٌ فِى ٱلْأَمْوَٰلِ وَٱلْأَوْلَٰدِ ۖ كَمَثَلِ غَيْثٍ أَعْجَبَ ٱلْكُفَّارَ نَبَاتُهُۥ ثُمَّ يَهِيجُ فَتَرَىٰهُ مُصْفَرًّا ثُمَّ يَكُونُ حُطَٰمًا ۖ وَفِى ٱلْءَاخِرَةِ عَذَابٌ شَدِيدٌ وَمَغْفِرَةٌ مِّنَ ٱللَّهِ وَرِضْوَٰنٌ ۚ وَمَا ٱلْحَيَوٰةُ ٱلدُّنْيَآ إِلَّا مَتَٰعُ ٱلْغُرُورِ
“Know that the life of this world is but amusement and diversion and adornment and boasting to one another and competition in increase of wealth and children – like the example of a rain whose [resulting] plant growth pleases the tillers; then it dries and you see it turned yellow; then it becomes [scattered] debris. And in the Hereafter is severe punishment and forgiveness from Allah and approval. And what is the worldly life except the enjoyment of delusion.”
- Islam Teaches Us that Reaping What We Sow Does not only Happen in this World
As Hereafter is the permanent settlement, we’ll gain the results of what we did in the world there. Allah may give His reward or punishment to us in this life, but it’s just very little piece of the whole.
We’ll have a total harvesting in the Hereafter where the true justice exists. When we’re still alive and we don’t receive such reward or punishment, Allah is postponing it until the time comes.
وَلَنُذِيقَنَّهُم مِّنَ ٱلْعَذَابِ ٱلْأَدْنَىٰ دُونَ ٱلْعَذَابِ ٱلْأَكْبَرِ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَرْجِعُونَ
“And we will surely let them taste the nearer punishment short of the greater punishment that perhaps they will repent.” (As-Sajdah: 21)
From the explanation above, it’s clear that there is no karma in Islam. Islam only teaches us that either in this life or in the Hereafter, we’ll reap what we sow in this world.
Indeed this all is Allah’s right, and we as believers just need to have faith upon it. Because whatever happens, iman is our foundation, and there is basic importance of iman in Islam.