Many Muslims find contentment and ease in reflecting on the reality of the sixth article of faith, Qadr (Predestination). However, there are others who get confused and deviate.
Since Qadr is a diverse subject, it may be sufficient to focus on the meanings of the Hadith found in Sunan Ibn Majah, in which the Prophet (PBUH) informed us that everyone’s place in Paradise or Hell has already been decreed. This Hadith may leave some of us pondering over whether our final abode in the afterlife is already decided. If that is indeed the case, what’s the point of our deeds and choices? What difference does it make whether our actions are good or sinful?
Allah is the All Knowing and unlike anything else
Those who face confusion regarding the concept of Qadr in Islam are generally the people who don’t have an accurate understanding of Allah’s Omniscience. He has complete knowledge of everything, without exception. Hence, one cannot truly grasp the reality of Allah’s Divine Decree without having a sound understanding of Who Allah is. As we learn in Surah Al Ikhlas, there is nothing in existence that is comparable with Allah.
Thus, it is a massive error to apply human standards, which are limited and flawed to Allah. One cannot get a proper understanding of Who Allah is through this approach. After all, Allah Himself told us that He is Unique. It’s a must to study Allah’s Names and Attributes. Subsequently, one should focus on gaining a grasp of the complexities of the Divine Decree, according to the Sunnah.
The four aspects of Qadr
Scholars have outlined four aspects of Qadr for belief in it to be fulfilled. The first is to recognize and have faith in Allah’s everlasting, all encompassing Knowledge. This includes the past, present, and future. Indeed, there is nothing that can evade Allah the Omniscient. As stated in Surah Al Ahzab, Allah has complete Knowledge of absolutely everything, so there are no exceptions.
The second aspect is to believe in Allah’s recording of every single thing He would create and what its fate will be in a ‘Preserved Tablet’ (al Lawh al Mahfoodh), 50,000 years prior to creating the heavens and the earth. As mentioned in Jami at Tirmidhi, the Pen was Allah’s first creation. He commanded it to write, and it recorded what will be for eternity.
The third aspect is belief in Allah’s Will, which is the affirmation that only what He wills will happen. This aspect includes both the Universal and Legislative will of Allah. Meanwhile, the last aspect is to believe in Allah’s Creation. This belief establishes that Allah is the only creator of everything in existence. This includes humans and their deeds, as stated in Surah As Saffat. Belief in all four aspects is key to developing a sound understanding of the divine decree.
Allah’s foreknowledge does not negate our free will
Allah’s Knowledge of His Verdict on everyone’s ultimate fate in the Hereafter does not negate our free will. Rather, His Knowledge is absolute, which includes His Knowledge of the choices we will make. This is why He knows and decides the results of our actions, and thus He already knows our final destination.
Allah’s decision on who enters Heaven or Hell is established based on His flawless Wisdom. He is All Knowing, and His Justice is perfect. In addition, the sending of numerous Messengers, who called to monotheism and warned against disobedience, wouldn’t make sense if our actions played no role in our Hereafter.
Qadr and why Allah praises the righteous and condemns the wrongdoers
Allah’s Legal Wish proves that our free will is a certain reality. The goal of sending Messengers on earth is to urge mankind to make the right choices and perform good deeds while shunning the opposite. Therefore, if free will for humans is denied, the sending of Messengers with revelation would be meaningless. Thus, flawed theories of deeds being irrelevant to our eventual fate go against Allah’s perfect Wisdom.
We are judged based on our deeds
In Surah An Nahl, Allah informed us that those who intentionally disbelieve after believing will face His anger and penalty. However, those who are compelled to do so while retaining faith in their heart are exempt in this regard. Such was the case of Ammar bin Yassir who was forced to make blasphemous remarks by Abu Jahl. He went on to feel distraught and remorseful and was comforted by the Prophet (PBUH).
Considering that Allah has even permitted the utterance of words of disbelief when one is compelled to do so, why would He decide to compel us to enter Heaven or Hell without taking our deeds into account? Allah does not hold us responsible for what we are forced to do.
Allah’s Universal Will and Qadr
Disasters and tragedies are part of Allah’s Universal Will because they are not carried out by humans. Natural disasters, accidents, and deaths fall under Allah’s Will, as humans are not the ones behind their occurrence. However, it is vital to acknowledge that there is a greater good behind all calamities, of which only Allah in His infinite Wisdom is aware.
Nothing can happen without Allah’s authorization
Nothing can occur if Allah doesn’t permit it. This includes our free will, which still requires Allah’s leave. Hence, humans only act when Allah authorizes an act. In Sunan al Bayhaqi, Imam ash Shaafa’i said that whatever Allah wants occurs, even if a person doesn’t want it to happen. Furthermore, whatever Allah does not want does not take place, even if one wants it to happen.
Man doesn’t like dictation
People don’t generally feel forced to do things. Even when it comes to basic actions in our daily lives, such as eating, drinking, walking, and talking, we act out of choice. The same applies to decisions such as who we marry, our jobs, etc. We do everything as we choose. Additionally, when someone orders us around or tries to dictate what we should and shouldn’t do, we feel irritated.
Believers don’t use Qadr as an excuse for sinning
Only those who disbelieve, use Qadr as an excuse to defend their sins, as mentioned in Surah Al An’am. Denial of Allah’s knowledge of the future is akin to saying that His knowledge is deficient and implies that He is ignorant. However, such flaws are impossible when it comes to Allah, who is Omniscient and Perfect in every way.
We should be thankful that everything is in Allah’s Control
Everything involving humans falls under Allah’s Control. His Will and Permission encompass everything, yet our free will remains. We should always be thankful to Allah for looking after all our affairs, through His Perfect Wisdom and Knowledge.
Allah has already decided who goes to heaven and who goes to hell. This is all part of a bigger picture, which is advantageous for a Muslim, as Allah is the best of Planners. The same way Khidr’s actions confounded Musa (a.s.) due to the shortcomings in his knowledge and wisdom compared to Khidr’s, we are also oblivious of the wisdom behind Qadr.
Believers find peace and contentment in the beautiful wisdom of Allah’s Qadr. Indeed, believers know that Allah has the best plan for them. We should confront all trials with patience and fortitude. When Allah grants ease after hardship, one should remember to be thankful.