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Friday, June 10, 2011

Al-Qadaa' wal-Qadar - Predestination


The belief in al-Qadar (general and particular decrees) is one of the main pillars of the Islamic Faith. Most Muslims believe in this. However, a few understand what it really is.
Let us first review or explain the meaning of al-Qadar. Al-Qadar is sometimes mentioned with al-Qadaa’ in the same statement. If so then each has a distinct meaning. However, when they are mentioned separately, then either one comprises the other. So when they are stated together, then al-Qadar means that which Allaah has eternally pre-ordained (in due measure) pertaining to His creation. On the other hand, al-Qadaa' means that which Allah has decreed for His creation from existence, annihilation, or change. In this sense, al-Qadar preceeds al-Qadaa' when combined in the same sentence.  

The belief in al-Qadar is obligatory as Allah stated in several verses of the Glorious Qur'an:
“Verily, we have created everything with Qadar.” (54:49)
An example of a Prophetic saying about al-Qadar:
”No slave of Allaah will (truly) believe until he believes in Qadar, its good and bad, from Allaah…”
(Sahih at-Tirmidhi)
Al-Qadar encompasses four themes: 
1)      Allaah’s Knowledge (al-'ilm)
2)      Allaah’s Writing (al-kitabah)
3)      Allaah’s Will (al-mashee’ah)
4)      Allaah’s Creation (al-khalq).
Each of these themes is discussed to some extent below.
1) Allaah’s Knowledge (al-'ilm)
We believe that Allaah’s knowledge encompasses everything. He knows what has occurred, what will occur, and all that which has or will not occur. This includes everything such as: life-spans, sayings, moves, deeds, secrets, all obedient and disobedient acts etc.
“Verily, Allaah is the All-Knower of everything.” (The Qur’an; 8:75)
2) Allaah’s Writing (al-kitabah)
This means that Allaah wrote everything about the creation, their livelihood, provisions, ages, and deeds, etc. He wrote what He says and what He does, and all that comes to existence due to His actions and sayings. He also wrote what is entailed by His names and attributes. All these are written in al-Lawh ul Mahfoudh (The preserved Tablet). 
“And there is nothing hidden in the heaven and the earth but (is) in a clear book.” (The Qur’an; 27:75)
3) Allaah’s Will (al-mashee’ah)
It is the belief that Allaah willed everything that goes on in this universe. His will and His preordaining power effectively cover everything. Whatever He wills, will occur, and whatever He does not will, will not take place.
“If Allaah willed, he would have made you one nation, but (He did this) that (He) may test you in what He has given you.” (The Qur’an; 5:48)
The will of Allaah (Al-mashee’ah) can be Kawniyyah (universal) or Shar’iyyah  (legal or judicial). Al-mashee’ah al-kawniyyah means that whatever Allaah permitted to exist [such as kufr (disbelief), belief, obedience, and disobedience, etc.] is pertinent to his mashee’ah, whether He likes it or not. This is also called al-iradah al-kawniyyah. Therefore, Allaah may decree, as necessitated by His wisdom, to pass things which He does not like and is not pleased with.
“And he likes not disobedience from His slaves.” (The Qur’an; 39:7)
It is obvious from this verse that Allaah does not like kufr. Yet it exists, by His will, in harmony with His wisdom.
On the other hand, the judicial will is pertinent to Allaah’s legislation (Sharee’ah). Hence it is related to what Allah loves and likes, whether it takes place or not. It is also known as al-iradah ash-shar’iyyah. The acts of obedience from the angels, prophets, and the believers, when they take place, are loved by Allaah and are passed by His universal will. However, it is not necessarily that His commands are always executed.
4) Allaah’s Creation (al-khalq).
Allaah is the sole Creator of everything, including man’s deeds. No single atom or higher, static or in motion, exists except that Allaah created it. Nothing takes place in this world except for the fact that Allaah has created it (including evil):
“Verily, Allaah is the Creator of everything and He is the Disposer of affairs over all things.” (The Qur’an; 39:62)
Coming to some of those parts which seem to confuse a lot of people; first and foremost, if everything’s already recorded and decided, where is the test for us and why aren’t we simply put in Heaven or Hell according to what has been recorded?
Well, as far as the Heaven or Hell part is concerned, people might have considered it unfair. The ones in Heaven would be satisfied with what they get but the ones in Hell would complain and say that if we had been given a chance, we might have passed the test and got into Heaven so the person has to have that experience first so that he won’t have any basis for complaint.
As for the issue regarding the test, there are two types of incidents. One is which we have no control or choice of such as when we’re born or when we die etc. The other type is the one in which we have a choice such as choosing whether to practice Islam or not and so on.
The confusion being tackled is usually with this second type. The fact of the matter is that since Allaah is the All Knower, He has the knowledge of what we are going to do and so our Qadar was already written before we were even born even though we were to decide it.
Another confusion is if Allaah created everything and knew what was going to happen and He is not evil, why did He create evil in the first place? Even if he didn’t create evil, then why did he create creatures which result in evil?
Basically, we have to realize that nothing in this life is totally evil. Rather, everything in this world has an evil part as well as a good part. I’ll mention a few reasons of why such things were created and I hope they’ll be enough to be able to clear this confusion away, inshallah.
Firstly, evil is present to help us know good. Just as we cannot know sweet unless we know sour or we cannot know lightness unless we know darkness, and so on, similarly we cannot know good unless we know evil.
Secondly, everything evil has a greater good in it. We take the example of the incident in which Shaytaan finally made Prophet Adam (peace be upon him) eat the fruit from the forbidden tree. Not going into the depth of the incident, we might ask why did such an incident happen and why was Shaytaan allowed to do that and so can do the same to us now.
Well, this incident lead to a greater good which was repentance. Prophet Adam (peace be upon him) realized the blessing of repentance and so now we also know it and this blessing is, no doubt, a much greater achievement. Similarly, if Shaytaan wasn’t allowed to do what he was able to do, there wouldn’t be a test for us. All of us would just pass and so the good and hardworking ones wouldn’t be distinguished from the bad ones.
Just as we were able to realize this greater good, everything has a greater good in itself. However, it is not always that we’re able to realize it and that is from the wisdom of Allaah because if every such thing was crystal clear, no one would want to disobey the commands of Allaah as everyone would know that they always are the key to success. That would again lead to a kind of no-test world.
One more really confusing issue is that if everything we do is already written, why do we need to try? If it’s in our Qadar, we will surely get it and if we don’t get it, it must be because that is what it was in our Qadar. Therefore, some students don’t study for their exams, relying, as they say, ‘on their Qadar’.
The answer to this is similar to that of the first confusion so I won’t be repeating it. However, I’ll just mention a couple of examples to show our own double standard in this issue.
Suppose you’ve got a low salary job and you know that if you work hard and get a promotion along with an easier job, what will you do? Will you sit at home thinking that if it is in my Qadar, I’ll get the higher salary automatically at my home? Hardly anyone ever does that. The reason as mentioned earlier is that everyone knows that it, eventually, is their own choice.
Similarly, if you are single and you want a child, what will you do? Will you sit at home waiting for some child to miraculously land in your home? Of course not! You’ll look for a spouse and take care of all the necessary arrangements before coming near to thinking that it might not be in my Qadar.
That is exactly what has been narrated from the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him):
From Umar ibn Al-Khattab from the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) who said:
"If only you relied on Allah a true reliance, He would provide sustenance for you just as He does the birds: They fly out in the morning empty and return in the afternoon with full stomachs."
(Ahmad, An-Nisaa’i, Ibn Majah, Al-Hakim and At-Tirmidhi who said: "Hasan Sahih")
The example that was narrated here is pretty marveling. The birds go out in the morning and exert themselves all day long and so they get their sustenance due to that. Similarly, we need to exert ourselves before we start blaming anything on the Qadar.
One last issue which needs to be mentioned is should Al-Qadar be discussed in the first place?
Many Muslims raise the issue that “It is better not to talk about al-Qadar, the Prophet prohibited us from doing so!” Generally this attitude is wrong for the following reasons:
1.  The matter of belief in al-Qadar is an article of Faith and we must know our faith well in order to worship Allah in the right way. In fact al-Qadar was mentioned in the hadith of the Angel Jibra’il (peace be upon him) in which the Prophet mentioned al-Qadar as an article of faith. At the end of this hadith, the Prophet said, “Verily! Jibra’il came to teach you your Deen” as narrated in Sahih Muslim, the book of faith.
2.  The Noble Qur'an is full of verses about al-Qadar and its details, and Allah says, “Do they not think deeply in the Qur'an, or are their hearts locked up (from understanding it)?” (The Qur’an; 47:24]
3.  The Sahabah (may Allaah be pleased with them all) used to ask the Prophet about minute details in al-Qadar, as in the hadith of Suraqah bin Maalik - who asked the Prophet: “O Messenger of Allaah! Explain our Deen to us as if we have been created just now. Whatever we do today, is it because of the fact that the pens have turned dry (having written the records) and the destinies have begun to operate? Or is it something that just happens (without pre-destination)?”
4.  The scholars among the Salaf as-Saalih (pious predecessors) wrote extensively on the subject, had it been prohibited to do so, they would have committed a serious disobedience to Allaah. Had they also not explained this matter, many people would remain ignorant, and it would have opened the door to innovation in understanding al-Qadar.
This is what has happened today, when we see many Muslims who blame al-Qadar for their sinful lives, and at the same time some religious Muslims who, due to their ignorance on the issue, declare that there is no Qadar and that everything is decided by ones actions.
5.  What did the Prophet mean when he said, “… and if al-Qadar is mentioned then hold”? (At-Tabarani and Abu Na’eem and al-Albaani said it is authentic in Sahih al-Jami hadith 545 and As-Silsilah as-Sahihah 1/42 hadith 34)
Also when he saw some of the companions disputing about al-Qadar, he became angry and said: “Were you commanded to do this? Or was I sent to you in order to do this (dispute among yourselves)? Verily it was such disputes in this matter (of al-Qadar) which caused the destruction of those who were before you! I am determined (to call you) to not have dispute amongst you in this matter (of al-Qadar).” (Sunan at-Tirmidhi and and authenticated by Sheikh al-Albaani in Sahih Sunan at-Tirmidhi no.1732-2231)
The answer is that the Prophet prohibited disputing about al-Qadar but not understanding the matter of al-Qadar. He did not want Muslims to indulge in discussions about al-Qadar without knowledge and proofs. Also discussions that will lead to disputes in this matter are forbidden.
Al-Qadar is from the world of the unseen. What is known about it from the Qur'an and the Sunnah is to be followed and the Muslims must submit to it. No one is allowed to give his opinion on this issue. Sufficient is what is revealed to the Prophet. We are permitted to seek knowledge about al-Qadar, and this is different from asking questions like - Why did Allah guide so and so and not so and so? Or why rain falls on the southern part of the land and not on the eastern part? Certainly, the Wisdom of Allah in al-Qadar cannot be questioned.
May Allah, the Most Merciful, the All Knower, the All Able, the All Wise and the All Just, guide us to the correct understanding of Islam and make us among the adherents of the Sunnah of the Prophet and keep us safe from misguidance.
To read up more on this topic, you might want to consider the following book: Qadar or listen to the following lecture series by Dr. Bilal Philips: CD 1 | CD 2 | CD 3 | CD 4 | CD 5 | CD 6 | CD 7 | CD 8 | CD 9

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2 comments:

hani ansari said...

very enlightening..thanks for posting brother..JazakAllah

imaduddinsaqib said...

Wa iyyaak!

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