The last pillar of the Islamic faith, one that every Muslim believes, is the concept of Al-Qadr, which closely translates to predestination or pre-ordainment (sometimes translated as predestination/Divine Decree, destiny, or fate). When one believes in the tenet of Al-Qadr, translated as “Divine Decree,” they affirm that everything — good or bad — that happens in their life emanates from God the Almighty and is something He willed to happen. Al-Qadr, in Arabic, translates to mean to measure, to determine, to assess, to decide, to judge. In the context of religion, the term means “Divine determined measurements and sustenance for everyone and everything, in accordance with His Wisdom and Power.” God states in his Book:
Indeed, all things We created with predestination (Quran 54:49)
God the Almighty, being All-Knowing and All-Wise, knows what we have done in the past, what we are doing now, and what we will do in the future — even before our birth. After all, can God be God if He doesn’t know everything, including the future? Whereas humanity has the free will to make their own choices, everything happens only and directly through God’s Will and Power.
Before discussing the idea that if God preordained everything, why should we be held accountable? You must understand the concept of Divine Decree better. Al-Qadar (Divine Decree) comprises four components. The first component is the belief that God is All-Knowledgeable. His Knowledge encompasses all things. The Almighty’s foreknowledge is infallible and complete.
“And with Him are the keys of the unseen; none knows them except Him. And He knows what is on the land and in the sea. Not a leaf falls but that He knows it. And no grain is there within the darknesses of the earth and no moist or dry thing but that it is written in a clear record” (Quran 6:59)
The second component of Divine Decree is the belief that Allah has recorded all happenings, everything from the beginning of time to the Day of Judgment, in a Tablet He has kept an account known as the Lawh Al-Mahfooth (the Preserved Tablet). Each person’s lifespan, substance, deeds, happiness, sorrows, and more are written and recorded on this Tablet. In fact, according to a narration of Prophet Muhammad PBUH, Allah, the Glorious, recorded the measurements of all matters regarding His creation fifty thousand years before He created the heavens and the earth.
“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)
The third component of Divine Decree is the belief that nothing can occur without the Will and Power of Allah, whether the event stems from the action of the Almighty or the actions of humanity. Nothing occurs haphazardly or by accident; the Almighty has decreed everything.
Muslims acknowledge that anything that has happened could not have been avoided or prevented — no one can avoid an occurrence unless God has willed it. By contrast, whatever has not reached, attained, or afflicted a person, was not meant to touch or afflict that person by God’s will. Our Prophet PBUH narrated, “Know if all of humanity gathered to harm you, they could not harm you unless Allah had decreed. The Pen has been lifted, and the pages have dried.”
The fourth and last component of Divine Decree is the belief that Allah is the Creator and Originator of all things.
“…and has created each thing and determined it with precise determination” (Quran 25:2)
If you question why you are held responsible for the choices and actions you make if God decreed all of them before your birth, you must realize that whatever was written about you was written only because you will make those choices on your own. You would not be making your choices in life because they were written beforehand. They were written beforehand because God can foretell the future, and He decided to write everything that will happen until the day of Judgement on a tablet. But because God wrote all that will occur in your life in a tablet doesn’t mean that God determined or dictated the choices and actions you will take and that these decisions are preordained for you against your will. God wrote all your actions because you will commit them; you did not commit them before God wrote them. Everyone has free will to make whatever choice they want.
This concept may be difficult for some to grasp, and some may find its truth to be a contradiction to everything that has been said previously, but it is not, in fact, a contradiction. To summarize, what God wrote down in the beginning, was written because you ultimately make these choices on your own. You will not make your choices because they were written; they were written because you will make those choices.
The fact that God has written down all things does not change the truth that humans have the free will to choose their course of action. Just because each person’s choices are known to God beforehand, because He is All-Knowing, doesn’t mean that one will not be held accountable for their decisions and actions on the Day of Judgment. God’s Knowledge of the future does not allow humans free agency to do as they wish. God forces nothing upon anyone. God will hold no one accountable for things out of their control or for something they cannot do. Allah is All-Just and All-Wise; He tests humanity according to their strength and what their soul can bear. Muslims acknowledge that whatever difficulty they face is surmountable and that they can resolve it.
“God does not burden any human being with more than he is well able to bear” (Quran 2:286)
Muslims acknowledge that whatever befalls them is by God’s Will and Plan, whether they understand or accept this. Muslims place their trust and reliance on God, as God brims with Wisdom in all matters. Muslims affirm that God is All-Loving and loves His servants more than even their parents do. Muslims affirm that whatever God does holds a good motive, so believers always assume the goodness of life and do not lose faith.
Divine Decree never will be fully understood and comprehended by humans, as the concept deals with the essence of God’s Power and Will beyond that which our finite minds can comprehend.
Muslims benefit from learning, believing, and understanding Divine Decree in several ways. Amongst its benefits is the peace of mind and contentment of the heart that Muslims will attain if they acknowledge that nothing happens without a purpose. Muslims are confident that whatever has afflicted them could not have escaped them, and whatever missed them could not have reached them. God is in complete control of all happenings and events and predestines all. This recognition enables a believer to endure difficulties and hardships. Muslims do not grieve over what could have happened if things had taken a different course. Muslims do not worry about the future because they know that tomorrow’s events are written and predetermined.
The act of learning and believing in the Divine Decree increases and enhances one’s belief and trust in God. One’s reliance on God increases the likelihood of performing good deeds increases. Faith in Divine Decree decreases pride and arrogance in one’s deeds, as believers acknowledge that their intelligence and actions did not emanate from them; God is the source of all that comes their way. Belief in Divine Decree makes people refrain from fear, inspiring bravery as they acknowledge that no one can inflict harm on them without God’s permission and the Will of God. Without a strong belief in God, life would not be worth living.
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