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The Divine Will and the Human Will:

 So many events take place in this world in which human will has no say. We have to accept them willy nilly. They will have to happen, whether, we like them or dislike them.  Certain matters like a man’s birth and death, his gender, his personal attributes, his age or his parents, are beyond human will and determination. All these are subject to divine will and determination. Thus Allah declares:

وَرَبُّكَ يَخْلُقُ مَا يَشَاءُ وَيَخْتَارُ مَا كَانَ لَهُمْ الْخِيَرَةُ سُبْحَانَ اللَّهِ وَتَعَالَى عَمَّا يُشْرِكُونَ (68) (القصص: 68)

(Translation of meaning) [“Thy Lord creates what He willelth and chooseth. They have never any choice. Glorified be Allah and exalted above all that they associate [with him]!” (Al-Qasas: 68)]. In all such situations a believer’s attitude remains that of perseverance and submission to the acts of Allah. If he is met with some calamity he keeps his forbearance in the expectation that on the Day of Resurrection Allah Almighty may reward him for his steadfastness and forgive him for his sins. Allah has proclaimed:

وَإِنْ يَمْسَسْكَ اللَّهُ بِضُرٍّ فَلا كَاشِفَ لَهُ إِلاَّ هُوَ وَإِنْ يُرِدْكَ بِخَيْرٍ فَلا رَادَّ لِفَضْلِهِ يُصِيبُ بِهِ مَنْ يَشَاءُ مِنْ عِبَادِهِ وَهُوَ الْغَفُورُ الرَّحِيمُ (يونس:107)

(Translation of meaning) [“If Allah afflicteth thee with some hurt, there is none who can remove it save Him; and if He desireth good for thee, there is none who can repel His bounty. He striketh with it whom He will of the bondmen. He is the forgiving, the Merciful” (Yunus:107)]

Similarly, there are innumerable natural phenomena which are beyond human intervention like movements of the heavenly bodies, the circulation of the earth around the sun, the recurrence of day and night, the cycle of seasons, the formation of clouds and making of rains, etc. These are all governed by the divine laws. A believer knows that all these happen by the command of Allah and he has to acquiesce in and submit to them. The dialogue between Hadrat Ibrahim (Alaihis Salam) and Nimrod as recorded in the Quran is an illustration of this. When Hadrat Ibrahim (Alaihis Salam) told him that my God makes the sun rise from east and set in the west. If you also claim to be a God then do the reverse of it. To this that denier of God had no answer. The Quran mentions this in these words:

قَالَ إِبْرَاهِيمُ فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ يَأْتِي بِالشَّمْسِ مِنْ الْمَشْرِقِ فَأْتِ بِهَا مِنْ الْمَغْرِبِ فَبُهِتَ الَّذِي كَفَرَ وَاللَّهُ لا يَهْدِي الْقَوْمَ الظَّالِمِينَ (البقرة: 258)

(Translation of meaning) [“ Abraham said: Lo! Allah causeth the sun to rise in the east, so do thou cause it to come up from the west. Thus was the disbeliever abashed. And Allah guideth not wrong-doing folk” (Al-Baqarah: 258)].

It is also part of a believer’s faith that subject to the supreme will of Allah the Almighty a man is endowed with freedom and freedom of action. But human will is always subject to divine will. Allah has proclaimed:

وَمَا تَشَاءُونَ إِلاَّ أَنْ يَشَاءَ اللَّهُ رَبُّ الْعَالَمِينَ (29) (التكوير: 29)

(Translation of meaning) [“And ye will not, unless [it be] that Allah willeth, the Lord of Creation” (At-Takvir: 29)].

Nonetheless, one should not assume that Allah Almighty has made men passive agents doing what they do under compulsion or that they will be reckoned for their deeds done under compulsion. This is a wrong assumption. This is contrary to the attribute of divine justice. We also believe in His justice and that he cannot tyrannize his slaves. As a matter of fact, Allah the Almighty has demarcated the twin paths of right guidance and deviation and has also laid down clearly what is right conduct and what is deviation. He declared:

وَهَدَيْنَاهُ النَّجْدَيْنِ (10) (البلد:10)

(Translation of meaning) [“And We guided him to the twin paths [of good and evil]” (Al-Balad:10)].

Allah the Almighty also ordained them to adopt the path of right guidance and promised them to reward them if they followed the right path. At the same time he has also defined what is evil and forbidden them from following the wrong path. He also warned them of its evil consequences. Allah has ordained:

إِنْ تَكْفُرُوا فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ غَنِيٌّ عَنْكُمْ وَلا يَرْضَى لِعِبَادِهِ الْكُفْرَ وَإِنْ تَشْكُرُوا يَرْضَهُ لَكُمْ (7) (الزمر: 7)

(Translation of meaning) [“If ye are thankless Allah is in no need of you, and He does not like thanklessness on the part of His slaves; and if ye are thankful He is pleased therewith for you” (Az-Zumar: 7)].

Man has been granted the freedom to choose between good and evil. He is free to either choose belief or opt for disbelief.  Thus Allah has ordained:

وَقُلْ الْحَقُّ مِنْ رَبِّكُمْ فَمَنْ شَاءَ فَلْيُؤْمِنْ وَمَنْ شَاءَ فَلْيَكْفُرْ(29) (الكهف: 29)

(Translation of meaning) [“Say [to them] it is the truth from your Lord. Thereafter, whosoever wants to believe should believe and whosoever wants to deny should deny” (Al-Kahf: 29)].

It was with this objective, that Allah the Almighty started the chain of his apostles and revealed His Books to them so that they could show the people what is right guidance and what deviance is. He has further proclaimed:

إِنَّا هَدَيْنَاهُ السَّبِيلَ إِمَّا شَاكِراً وَإِمَّا كَفُوراً(3) (الدهر:3)

(Translation of meaning) [“Lo! We have shown him [man] the right path; [now] let him be either grateful or disbelieving” (Ad-Dahr: 3)].

For instance, the tribe Thamud in spite of receiving guidance and warning chose the path of deviation and it is about them that Allah says:

وَأَمَّا ثَمُودُ فَهَدَيْنَاهُمْ فَاسْتَحَبُّوا الْعَمَى عَلَى الْهُدَى (17) (فصلت: 17)

(Translation of meaning) [“And so far as Thamud is concerned, We guided them but they preferred blindness to righteousness” (Fussilat: 17)].

Allah has foreordained the livelihood as well as the death of every being. Therefore, one is destined to have that much livelihood, which is in his lot and likewise, he will die at a time fixed by Allah the Almighty. It cannot be delayed or advanced Allah has proclaimed:

وَفِي السَّمَاءِ رِزْقُكُمْ وَمَا تُوعَدُونَ (22) فَوَرَبِّ السَّمَاءِ وَالأَرْضِ إِنَّهُ لَحَقٌّ مِثْلَ مَا أَنَّكُمْ تَنطِقُونَ (23) (الذاريات: 23 – 23)

(Translation of meaning) [“And in the heavens is your providence and that which you are promised; and by the Lord of the heavens and he earth, it is the truth, which is truth like what you speak” (Az-Zhariyat: 22-23)].

Belief in predestination makes a believer fully content. Hadrat Hasan Basari (Rahimullah) said that because, I know that food allocated to me cannot be taken away by others I’m fully contented. However, this must not create the wrong assumption because provision is a matter of destiny one should sit down and wait for his livelihood. No. The search for the ways and means of providing for oneself is also part of the belief in predestination. The Messenger of Allah (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said:

«لَوْ أَنَّكُمْ كُنْتُمْ تَوَكَّلُونَ عَلَى اللَّهِ حَقَّ تَوَكُّلِهِ لَرُزِقْتُمْ كَمَا يُرْزَقُ الطَّيْرُ تَغْدُو خِمَاصًا وَتَرُوحُ بِطَانًا» (ترمذي)

(Translation of meaning) If you trust Allah the Almighty like, He should be trusted  He would feed you like He feeds the birds, which set out in the morning with empty bellies and come back in the evening with bellies full (Tirmizi). Similar is the case with death. Allah has declared:

وَمَا كَانَ لِنَفْسٍ أَنْ تَمُوتَ إِلاَّ بِإِذْنِ اللَّهِ كِتَاباً مُؤَجَّلاً (145) (آل عمران: 145)

(Translation of meaning) [“No soul can ever die except by Allah’s leave and at a term appointed” (Al Imran:145)].

«قَدْ سَأَلْتِ اللهَ لِآجَالٍ مَضْرُوبَةٍ، وَأَيَّامٍ مَعْدُودَةٍ، وَأَرْزَاقٍ مَقْسُومَةٍ، لَنْ يُعَجِّلَ شَيْئًا قَبْلَ حِلِّهِ، أَوْ يُؤَخِّرَ شَيْئًا عَنْ حِلِّهِ، وَلَوْ كُنْتِ سَأَلْتِ اللهَ أَنْ يُعِيذَكِ مِنْ عَذَابٍ فِي النَّارِ، أَوْ عَذَابٍ فِي الْقَبْرِ، كَانَ خَيْرًا وَأَفْضَلَ» (مسلم).

The Mother of the Believers Hadrat Umme Habibah (RadhiAllahu Anha) once prayed to Allah: O my Allah grant me an opportunity to be in the company of my husband the Messenger of Allah, and my father Abu Sufiyan and my brother Mu’awiyyah  (meaning a long life). On hearing this prayer the Messenger of Allah (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) commented: You are praying about something which has already been counted and determined. The providence has already been allocated. Everything is bound to happen as destined. Had you prayed to Allah for safety from the ordeal of Fire or the ordeal of the grave it would have been better for you (Muslim).