Episode 15: Fate and the divine decree
• We believe in Fate, whether good or bad, which Allah has measured and ordained for all creatures according to His previous knowledge and as deemed suitable by His wisdom.
Levels of Belief:
• Belief in Fate has four levels:
1) Knowledge: We believe that Allah, may He be exalted, knows everything. He knows what has happened and what will happen and how it will happen. His knowledge is eternal. He does not acquire a new knowledge nor does he forget what He knows.
2) Recording: We believe that Allah has recorded in the secured tablet (al Lowh al Mahfuz) whatever is going to happen until the Day of Judgment: "Did you not know that Allah knows all that is in heaven and Earth? Surely that is in a book. Surely that for Allah is an easy matter" (22:70).
3) Will: We believe that Allah has willed everything in heaven and Earth. Nothing happens except by His will. Whatever He wills will
take place, and whatever He does not will not take place.
4) Creation: We believe that "Allah is the Creator of all things; He is the Guardian over all things, and to Him belong the keys of the heavens and the Earth" (39:62-3). This level includes whatever Allah Himself does and whatever His creatures do. Thus each saying, deed, or omission of the people is known to Allah, Who has recorded, willed, and created them: "To those among you who will to be upright. But you shall not will except as Allah wills, the Lord of the Worlds" (81:2829); "And had Allah willed they would not have fought one against the other; but Allah does whatever He desires" (2:253); "Had Allah willed, they would not have done so, but leave them alone and their false inventions" (6:137); and "And Allah created you and what you do" (37:96).
Man's Free Will:
• We believe, however, that Allah has granted man a power and a free will by which he performs his actions. That man's deeds are done by his power and free will can be proven by the following points:
1) Allah says: "So approach your fields (wives) when and how you will" (2:223); and "Had they desired to go forth, they would have made some preparation for it" (9:46). In these verses, Allah affirmed for man "a going forth" by his will and "a preparation" by his desire.
2) Directing man to do or not to do. If man has no free will and power, these directions mean that Allah is asking man to do that which he cannot do. This proposition is rejected by Allah's wisdom, mercy and truthful statement: "Allah does not charge a soul beyond its capacity" (2:286).
3) Praising the virtuous for his deeds and blaming the evildoer for his actions and rewarding each of them with what he deserves. If the action is not done by the individual's free will, then praising the virtuous is a joke and punishing the evildoer is an injustice, and Allah is, of course, far from joking and being unjust.
4) Allah has sent messengers who are "bearing good tidings, and warning, so that mankind might have no argument against Allah after the messengers" (4:165). If the individual's action is not performed by his free will, his argument is not invalidated by the sending of messengers.
5) Every doer of actions feels that he does or does not do a thing without any coercion. He stands up and sits, comes in and goes out, travels and stays by his own free will without feeling anybody forcing him to be any of these actions. In fact, he clearly distinguishes between doing something of his own free will and someone else forcing him to do that action. The Islamic law also wisely distinguishes between these states of affairs. It does not punish a wrongdoer for an action done under compulsion.