Belief in Divine Decree

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(part 1 of 2) Description:  If everything has been predestined by God, how does one have any freedom of will? The answer lies in this two pa...

(part 1 of 2)

Description: If everything has been predestined by God, how does one have any freedom of will? The answer lies in this two part lesson.

Objectives
·       To realize the importance and emphasis laid down by Islam with regards to belief in divine decree (Qadr).
·       To learn the first two components that the belief in divine decree entails, i-e Allah’s Foreknowledge is all inclusive and complete and that Allah has recorded everything in the Preserved Tablet.
The sixth and last article of Islamic faith is belief in divine decree (Qadr in Arabic).  The divine decree (Qadr) is an extremely important article of faith, and people of various faiths have differed among themselves concerning this issue for a long time.
The divine decree is Allah’s ‘hidden mystery’ whose depths are inaccessible for human beings to fathom.  A Muslim should learn the correct belief regarding the divine decree and stick to the advice of the Prophet:
“When the divine decree (Qadr) is mentioned, take to silence.” (Saheeh Muslim)
At the same time, we have been given enough information about this subject in order for us to be at peace with it, even if we may not know its intricacies. For this reason, it is a compulsory aspect of faith, and emphasizing the importance of this belief, Ibn Umar, the famous Companion of Prophet Muhammad, once swore and said of those who rejected it, ‘If one of them were to spend gold equal to Mount Uhad in the way of Allah, it will never be accepted by Allah from them, unless they believe in the divine decree.
Ubada bin Samit, a Companion of the Prophet, was on his death bed when his son visited him and asked,
‘O Father, give me advice so I may hold to it.’
Ubada said,
 ‘Sit down.  O my son, you shall never taste faith, and shall not reach the reality of the knowledge of Allah until you have faith in the divine decree, the good of it and the evil of it.’
So I said,
‘O my father, how do I know what is the good of the divine decree and the evil of it?’
He said,
‘Know that what afflicted you, could never have missed you; and what missed you, could never have afflicted you.  O my son, I heard the Prophet of Allah say that the first thing Allah created was the Pen.  He said to it, ‘Write’.  So it wrote everything that would take place till the Day of Judgment.  O my son, if you die while not believing in this, then you will enter the Fire.’
Ad-Daylami says:
“I went to Ubayy bin Ka’b and told him that I had some doubts regarding the divine decree, so tell me something so that perchance Allah makes it leave my heart.  He said, ‘If Allah were to punish the inhabitants of the heavens and the earth, He would punish them and He would not be unjust to them; and if He were to show Mercy to them, it would be better for them than their deeds.  And if you were to spend gold the like of Mount Uhad, it will not be accepted by Allah until you had faith in the divine decree.  And know that what afflicted you could never have missed you, and what missed you could never have afflicted you.’
So he went to Abdullah Ibn Mas’ud who told him the same thing.  So he went to Hudthaifah bin al-Yaman[1]  who told him the same thing.  He went to Zayd bin Thabit who also told him the same thing.[2]
What is this faith in the divine decree (Qadr) that these great Companions considered as salvation from the Fire?  What exactly does one have to believe in?
(1)  Allah’s Foreknowledge is all inclusive and complete.
(2)  Allah has recorded everything in the Preserved Tablet.
(3)  Allah’s Will always comes to pass, and His Ability is perfect.
(4)  Allah created everything.

(1)    Allah’s Foreknowledge is All Inclusive and Complete

The first necessary component is to believe in Allah’s infallible foreknowledge.  Allah knows what the creatures will do, encompassing everything by His knowledge.  He knows all that exists, in entirety and totality, by virtue of His ancient and eternal foreknowledge.  It is the same to Him whether it is related to His Actions or the acts of His slaves.  He knows their state, obedience and disobedience, sustenance, life span, successes and failures, and all their movements.  Before He created them, and even before He created the heavens and the earth, Allah knew exactly who will enter Paradise and who will abide in Hell.
“Truly, nothing is hidden from Allah, in the earth or in the heavens.” (Quran 3:5)
“Do you not know that Allah knows all that occurs in heaven and on earth?” (Quran 22:70)
Whoever refuses it denies Allah’s perfection, because the opposite of knowledge is either ignorance or forgetfulness.  It would mean Allah would have been mistaken in His foreknowledge of future events; He would no longer be Omniscient.  Both are deficiencies which Allah is free of.  When Pharaoh asked Moses:
“(Pharaoh said:) ‘What about the generations of old?’
(Moses) said: ‘The knowledge thereof is with my Lord, in a Record.  My Lord is neither unaware nor He forgets’” (Quran 20:51, 52)
Allah is not unaware of the future, nor does He forget anything from the past.

(2)    Allah Has Recorded Everything in the Preserved Tablet

The second necessary component is that Allah has recorded everything that will occur until the Day of Judgment in the Preserved Tablet (al-Lauh al-Mahfudh in Arabic).  The life spans of all human beings are written and the amount of their sustenance apportioned.  Eternal selection and condemnation were written for all humanity before they were created.  Of their own will they went out; of their own will they fell, and because their fall was foreknown, so it was written.
Everything that is created or occurs in the universe is according to what is recorded there.  Allah has said:
“Do you not know that Allah knows what is in the heaven and earth? Indeed, that is in a Record.  Indeed that, for Allah, is easy.” (Quran 22:70)

Sometimes the sinful attempt to justify sin by saying, “I committed this sin because it was written.”  The mistake is in his thinking that the mere writing takes away his free will and implies he had no choice in his actions!  The answer to such a person is, “No.  Since you did it, therefore it was written.”  Meaning he was free to choose.  What was written was simply the choice that he would take, made known to Allah by His foreknowledge without denying his free will.


Footnotes:
[1] These are all companions of the Prophet, may God praise him.
[2] Imam Ahmad in his Musnad and Abu Dawud.

Belief in Divine Decree (part 2 of 2)

Description: If everything has been predestined by God, how does one have any freedom of will? The answer lies in this two part lesson.
Objectives
·       To learn the second two components that belief in divine decree entails, i-e everything happens by the Will of Allah and His Ability is perfect,  and that Allah is the One who created everything.
·       To clarify and dispel the confusion regarding the question of freedom of will.

(3)    Allah’s Will Passes, and His Ability is Perfect

Whatever Allah wills comes to pass, and whatever Allah does not will does not happen.  Nothing occurs in the heavens or on the earth without the Will of Allah.  Hence, whatever is in the universe occurs by the Will of Allah, be it a divine act or actions of the creation:
“Had He so willed, he would indeed have guided you all.” (Quran 6:149)
If we were to say that something occurs in existence without Allah willing it, that would mean that things can occur without the Will of Allah, and that would be a shortcoming in Allah’s power and will. Rather, everything that occurs can only be if Allah wills it. If He did not will it to occur, it could have never come into being.
Likewise the actions of the creation occur by the Will of Allah:
“And you do not will except that Allah wills – Lord of the worlds.” (Quran 81:29)
No one can do anything except if Allah wills it to be, had He willed that they do not take place, they would not have occurred.

(4)    Allah Created Everything

“He has created everything, and has measured it exactly according to its own measurement.”
“For it is He who creates everything and determines its nature in accordance with (His own) design.” (Quran 25:2)
This includes our characteristics and our deeds.
The human beings are created by Allah and so are the actions and statements that result from them.  This is because the actions and the statements of a person are his characteristics; if the person is a creation, then so are his characteristics a creation of Allah.
“While Allah has created you and what you do.” (Quran 37:96)
We are given the physical ability and a choice.  Our abilities like intelligence and memory differ just like our characteristics like height, weight, and color.  Also, we are given a will and have a choice.
If one of them does not exist, the act would not be performed.  The One who has created the choice and the ability is Allah, the Creator of the cause and the effect.  Since Allah has created both, the ability and the choice in us, hence the acts that we perform are also created by Allah.

Human Freedom of Will

Islamic belief in the divine decree (Qadr), every human act both in material and spiritual life is predestined, keeps human liberty intact without denying divine interference in human affairs.  It does not undermine the principle of man’s moral freedom and responsibility.  Man is not a helpless creature borne along by destiny.  It is incorrect to believe the action of fate is blind, arbitrary, and relentless.
All is known, but freedom is also granted.
Man is responsible for his acts.  Lethargic nations and individuals indolent to ordinary affairs of life are to blame themselves, not Allah.  Man is bound to obey the moral law; and he will receive merited punishment or reward as he violates or observes that law.  However, if such is so, man must have it in his power to break or keep the law.  Allah would not hold us responsible for something unless we were capable of doing it:
“Allah does not burden any human being with more than he is well able to bear.” (Quran 2:285)
“So keep your duty to Allah and fear Allah as much as you can.” (Quran 65:16)
Everyone knows the difference between being compelled to do something and being free; having the choice of doing it, between a gun put to one’s head and being free in making decisions.
Some people mistakenly imagine the divine decree of each individual’s future life is so rigorously predetermined in all its details by Allah that his own volitions or desires have no power to alter the course of events.  It defeats common sense to reject faith or commit a sin even before knowing whether or not it was destined! Everyone has the ability to choose between righteousness and evil, so how can a person willfully choose the road to perdition and use the divine decree (Qadr) as an excuse?  It is more appropriate to walk on the blessed path and attribute it to one’s destiny.  Allah knows from eternity with infallible certainty who will be saved and doomed, while Allah has this infallible foreknowledge, we, on our part, cannot have an absolutely certain assurance as to how we will end.  The Prophet, may Allah praise him, spoke the truth when he said:
“Seek what is beneficial to you, and ask Allah for help.  Do not lose hope, and if something were to afflict you, do not say ‘If I had done so and so’, because saying ‘If’ opens the doors for the devil.”
“If he is from the successful ones, then the deeds of the successful ones are made easy for him.” (Saheeh Al-BukhariSaheeh Muslim)

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Jama Masjid: Belief in Divine Decree
Belief in Divine Decree
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