Friday, August 26, 2022

Qaza wa Qadr: Predestination and Free Will

By Waheed Ahmed, New Age Islam 25 August 2022 Allah Has Not Determined That You Would Do Bad Things, But He Is Aware Of What You Will Do, Which Is A Result Of The Behavioural Ingredients Present At Initiation. He Is Omniscient, Which Means That The Past, The Present And The Future All Lie On The Same Page In His Purview. ---- Khutba (Qaza wa Qadr) 3-20-2009 Hamd u Sana I want to begin my Khutba with two examples: Example 1: There is a death in the family. A baby or a child dies leaving his/her grieving parents and perhaps ailing grandparents behind. No one understands why the young should be taken away, even before they began their lives and the old are left on their prolonged troublesome journey. Example 2: You are driving home from a day’s work. In a spur of a moment, you make a mistake. There is a near accident, which could have been very serious, but you are saved by the skin of your teeth. You know that in thousands of similar cases deaths have occurred, but you are saved, and you survived to live another day. Why? Why did you live, while others had perished under similar circumstances? Nobody knows and nobody shall ever know. The question defies logic. No science can give a logical answer to this question. For thousands of years wise men, philosophers, logicians and scientists have pondered over these questions. No one has yet come up with an answer. There is a Hadith pertinent to the first example I gave, which is mentioned in Bukhari, narrated by Abu Huraira: “--- The people said ‘Oh Allah’s Apostle! What do you think about those who die young?’ The Prophet said: Allah knows what they would have done.” This is a domain in which man has no knowledge nor any power. Allah’s Will is absolute and unalterable. Innallaha Ala Kulli Shayin Qadeer. (Indeed, Allah Has Power Over Everything.) The above verse occurs repeatedly in the Quran and: Wallahu Bi Kulli Shayin Aleem. (And Allah has knowledge about everything.) There is a subject called Qaza wa Qadr in Islamic sciences, which is the topic of my Khutba today. The other day, somebody asked me a question about Predestination and Free Will --- that if someone’s fate was already decided, whether he was going to be a good person or a bad one and whether he was going to heaven or hell, then what was the need for guidance, reformers and even religions? The debate about Predestination and Free Will has raged for centuries in most religions. In Christianity St. Augustine and John Calvin were strong proponents of Predestination and Pelagius was an advocate of Free Will. In Islam, the very first philosophical schism occurred on this question, between the Mu’tazilites and the Asharaites. The former believed in Free Will as Khalifa Al-Mamun made it the doctrine of the state, whereas the latter strongly countered this movement. The Mu’tazilites’ argument did not hold sway in the Sunni mind for long. The reason, as I have stated earlier, was belief in Allah’s Qudrah --- that Allah knows what is obvious and what is hidden. Yalamu Ma Baina Aidihim Wa Ma Khalfihim Wa La Yuhitoona Bi Shayin Min Ilmihi Illa Bi Ma Sha’ (He knows what is before or after and behind them and nor shall they circumvent His Will.) Allah’s Will (the word Sha’) is the corner stone of the Aqeedah in Islam. Therefore, insha-Allah and masha-Allah are the most frequently spoken words by Muslims. Even the Quran emphasizes the importance of saying insha-Allah. In Surah Al-Kahaf, Allah says: Wa La Taqulanna Lishayin Inni Faelun Dhalika Ghadan Illa An Yasah-Allahu. (Do not say that I shall do this thing tomorrow. Say if Allah wills.) There are various stories in scriptures about prophets, who made promises but omitted to say insha-Allah. Allah admonished them, by not making their promises fulfilled. There was this story about Prophet Suleiman (A). He had many wives and he cohabited with them saying that each wife would bear him a son but forgot to say insha-Allah. There was one issue as the result of that union and that too was a still-born son. To illustrate the point of Qadr further, let me quote another Hadith narrated by Anas bin Malik and recorded in Bukhari: The Prophet said: “Allah put an angel in charge of the uterus and the angel says: ‘Oh Lord, it is semen! Oh Lord, it is now a clot! Oh Lord, it is now a piece of flesh and then, if Allah wishes to complete the creation, the angel asks: Oh Lord, will it be a male or a female? A wretched or a blessed? How much will his provision be? So, all this is written while the creature is still in the mother’s womb.” This Hadith strengthened the arguments of the Asharaites in favour of Predestination. All these arguments are relevant to the concept of Qada and Qadr in Islam. Qadr literally means measure or worth, by implication, measuring out a portion of fate for every individual. This measure is then written in in Al-Lauh-Al-Mahfooz (the preserved tablet), even before the individual comes into being. Then the question comes in, whether man has any Free Will to change the condition that surrounds him, to alter the state of his being? If that is not to be the case, then humanity would come to a standstill. A mood of fatalism would set in and everything in our daily life would be left to chance. Man’s Free Will is the engine that runs our societies and our civilizations. Man can alter things, change the nature, dig out mountains, change the path of rivers, invent flying machines, even though he himself has no wings, builds boats by the order of Allah as Prophet Noah built his Arc to navigate in the deluge, to save Allah’s creatures from extinction. Allah gave man the power of observation and deduction, to derive the laws of physics, intellect in different measures (Qadr), to different scientists and scholars, who have enabled us to widen our perception of the cosmos to see far into the universe and deep into the heart of the matter, the nuclei and the elementary particles. How? Allah says in the Quran: “Ya Masharal Jinni Wa Alinsi In-Istatatum An Tanfudhu Min Aqtari Samawati Wa Al-Ardi Fa Anfudhu. La Tanfudhuna Illa Bi Sultan.” (Oh, company of jinn and mankind, if you can pass beyond the regions of the heavens and the earth, then pass. You will not be able to pass except by authority. Surah Al-Rahman). This verse has clearly two elements: authorization and limitation. Allah has authorized man to extend his reach depending upon Allah’s Will. We have witnessed this in the progress of science, which is essentially incremental. Man has made tremendous advances in medicine to improve the health of human beings and prolong lives. He has been successful in eradicating many diseases and has caused the death rate to fall. --- Update: And yet recently, a pandemic did remind us of the principle of authorization and limitation, bringing the civilization to a standstill---. How would all this progress be possible, if man did not have any Free Will and was not empowered with the prowess that God had decided to share with him? If the fate of each man and the nation had already been decided, then what would be the role of religion in this world? Are the teachings and preaching of the prophets just a stage act and is of no consequence for the future of humanity? The answer is obvious. No, the fate of a nation is not predetermined. Allah has said in the Quran: Inna-Allaha La Yughayyaru Ma Bi Qaumin Hatta Yughayyiru Ma Bi Anfusihim. (Indeed, Allah does not change the fate of a nation, until people change what is in them.) If the destiny of this world is based on lofty ideals, then humans are the instruments of that change. It is clear; what is written in Lauh-Al-Mahfooz (preserved tablet) is not eternal. Allah will change the script, if man makes an effort. In other words, man has a part to play in creating his own tablet, writing his own fate on it. Allah is rewriting man’s destiny every moment of time. Genes are being altered by what man does. The result is being written in his DNA and is being transferred to his offspring. Life is about making choices all the time, choice between getting up and lying in bed, choice between working and not working, choice between pulling the trigger and not pulling the trigger, choice between becoming a Muslim and not becoming a Muslim and choice between Halal and Haram. These choices affect your lives, your children’s lives and the health of the society. In fact, the essence of religion is about making moral choices. One might think that this idea of free choice, impacting the fate of individuals and societies might conflict with the concept of Qaza wa Qadr. Not so. For Muslims Predestination and Free Will are two sides of the same coin. Allah’s Will supersedes but man’s Free Will proceeds subserviently in his domain, measured out to him by Qadr. There are certain things in which man has no authority whatsoever, like in the matters of life and death that manifests in the examples I gave in the beginning of my Khutba. Also, man cannot interfere in celestial functions. He cannot alter the laws of physics. He can only use them to his advantage. Allah made man his vicegerent on earth having imparted to him a piece of divine intellect. It was on that piece that the history of civilization: past, present and future was written. Although Allah’s domain pre-existed, its existential consciousness unfolded only with the advent of man. At this point let me bring in another aspect of Qaza and Qadr, the difference between predetermination and prior knowledge. Allah has not determined that you would do bad things, but he is aware of what you will do, which is a result of the behavioural ingredients present at initiation. He is Omniscient, which means that the past, the present and the future all lie on the same page in His purview. He is also Omnipotent, who can wipe out the past, intercede in the present and put you on a different pathway to the future that he chooses. URL: New Age Islam, Islam Online, Islamic Website, African Muslim News, Arab World News, South Asia News, Indian Muslim News, World Muslim News, Women in Islam, Islamic Feminism, Arab Women, Women In Arab, Islamophobia in America, Muslim Women in West, Islam Women and Feminism

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