Between Destiny, Working and Free Will
By Taha Jabir Al-`Alawani*
Question: God mentioned that everything we do happens or doesn’t happen He knows about it and it was supposed to happen or not happen. But He also gave us free will to do what we want to do and asked us to work hard. So how can we combine all these together? For example, when I choose a lady for marriage is that Destiny or is that based on my decision. Some scholars say its destiny that brought us together others say it was your choice. Or if I decide to travel abroad for education or work is that destiny or my own free will. Some people claim that everything is destiny disregarding the fact that human beings make choices that gets them where they are. I just get confused really because what is the point of working hard if our destiny is already written and controls us.
In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.
Dr. Taha Jaber Al-`Alwani, sometime President of the Graduate School of Islamic and Social Sciences and president of the Fiqh Council of North America, states:
“It would be better not to think such a way as you are doing whatever you like by choice. When you chose to get married, that means you got the lady whom you liked to marry. After you get married, you will discover that Allah Knew about that and helped the two of you to be together. Sometimes you can feel that when you look at the events in which you discovered that girl is the best one for you.
Even further, maybe you think that you met her by accident, by your opinion. However, this was not accident. When you look at how that happened, you will find a lot of things that you can’t interpret without including preparation of Allah to those things. This means that we are free to do whatever we like and we are responsible for those choices that we make. Allah doesn’t force us to do things.
At the same time, the master plan is with Him, not with us. By this, we don’t need to think in this very wrong way that He asks us to do something and in the same time He didn’t give us the opportunity to do it. No! The right thing is that we are free and we can do whatever we like and we are accountable for this.
This wrong way of thinking led the mushrikin (polytheists) to say, as mentioned in Surat al-An`am:
“Those who give partners (to Allah) will say: ‘If Allah had wished, we should not have given partners to Him nor would our fathers; nor should we have had any taboos.’ So did their ancestors argue falsely, until they tasted of Our wrath. Say: ‘Have ye any (certain) knowledge? If so, produce it before us. Ye follow nothing but conjecture: ye do nothing but lie.’ Say: ‘With Allah is the argument that reaches home: if it had been His will, He could indeed have guided you all.’ Say: ‘Bring forward your witnesses to prove that Allah did forbid so and so.’ If they bring such witnesses, be not thou amongst them: Nor follow thou the vain desires of such as treat our signs as falsehoods, and such as believe not in the Hereafter: for they hold others as equal with their Guardian-Lord.” [Al-An`am, 6: 148-150]
From this, the mushrikin tried to make an excuse that Allah prepared for them to do their disobedience and shirik (associating partners with Him), and if He liked for them to avoid this, He would have prevented them by force not to do it.
However, Allah didn’t accept this excuse from them and told them that if Allah likes to force you to do something, He would force you to practice iman (belief) and taqwa (piety and righteousness).”
Allah Almighty knows best.
1. *Dr. Taha Jaber Al-`Alwani, sometime a President of the Graduate School of Islamic and Social Sciences and President of the Fiqh Council of North America.
2. The article was republished in The Q&A published in Islam Online with minor modification on 31Jan 2003
[Via Islam Online]