Accepting Destiny with Submission
We have discussed the essentials of the belief in qadar, and that this belief is intertwined with the fact that everything which occurs does so by the will of Allah (but not necessarily His approval) and within His pre-eternal knowledge. Mankind acts within this destiny by his own free will.
We should not try to ponder excessively over the issue of qadar, for its precise reality is not accessible to our minds. A man once asked Imam Hasan al-Basri, “Has Allah forced the servants to do their deeds?” Hasan replied, “He is more just than that!” The man then asked, “Did He leave things entirely up to them then?” Hasan said, “He is mightier than that! If He had forced them, He would not punish them, but if He had left things up to them, the order [to obey] would have had no meaning. In fact, the truth is somewhere between the two, and Allah has kept it hidden, so you cannot understand it.”
This is a crucial point to keep in mind, which is that we are incapable of grasping the full reality of qadar. It has been kept hidden from even the most pious Muslims, the Prophets, as well as the angels. This concept should not be difficult to accept, for even in thermodynamics and computer science, there are problems which are proven to have no solution. Hence, we should beware of pronouncing personal opinions or becoming preoccupied with the issue, for that is a fruitless pursuit. In fact, one who treads that path deprives himself of the benefits of other more productive endeavors, such as doing good deeds or using his mind to solve practical problems. He is at his own peril, and, moreover, runs the additional risk of uttering lies against Allah, in an attempt to try to master the reality of qadar. Eventually, his frustration may even lead him to protest Allah’s decree, saying, “Why did Allah decree such and such?” To challenge Allah’s decree is disbelief.
“He [i.e., Allah] may not be questioned regarding that which He does, but they will be questioned [about they did].“ [Surah al-Anbiyah, 21:23]
Believing in the justice of Allah is related to the belief in Destiny. Allah says,
“Allah does not do injustice of the weight of an atom. And, if it is a good deed, He multiplies it, and gives from Himself a good reward.” [Surah al-Nisa’, 4:40]
He also says,
“Nor am I the least unjust to My servants.” [Surah al-Qaf, 50:29]
Allah does not punish anyone for the deeds of another, nor for other things absolutely beyond his capability. He rewards the righteous by His grace and punishes the evil out of justice. Allah is the absolute sovereign, who has full authority over and ownership of all, and is, therefore, free to do whatever He wills. He is never unjust. Anyone who attributes injustice to Allah is a disbeliever. We should be careful not to complain about Allah in times of misfortune.
Our deeds are created by Allah, for Allah is the Creator of all things.
“Allah creates you and what you do.” [Surah al-Saffat, 37:97]
We merely earn the deeds such that whenever we make the intention and effort to do something, Allah will usually create the deed for us at that time. However, the responsibility for the deed is ours, since we chose to do it. If we try our utmost to do something, but the deed is not created for us, then the reward or sin we get is the same as if we had actually done the deed. This is why those who stay back from jihad due to genuine, such as serious illness, get the same reward as the mujahideen, and also why Hell is deserved by a Muslim who is killed by another Muslim while the two are engaged in unjustified combat that is fatal.
There is no strength to maintain piety and uprightness without the assistance and grace of Allah, nor is there any power to keep away from evil and sin other than that granted by Allah. The most one human being can do for another’s guidance is to present the truth to him, remind him, and to supplicate to Allah for his guidance.
The Qadariyyah denied qadar. In their pre-occupation with trying to reduce the issue to full comprehension, they claimed that Allah does not know the future before it occurs, and they thereby became disbelievers. They also claimed that Allah does not will evil, thus implying that He is not the Creator of all things. The Companions and the Successors in who were alive at the time of the emergence of the Qadariyyah were, justifiably, very harsh against them. They used to warn people not to greet the Qadariyyah with salam, neither to visit their ill, nor to pray over their dead.
The Jabriyyah went to the other extreme. They claimed that human beings are under compulsion and have no free will. This is also disbelief, and such people are in fact even denying the experienced reality of free will. This is reminiscent of the disbelievers’ argument that it is from Allah’s will that they disbelieve, and so they should let it remain. If such people are sincere in their claim, then they should abandon making any effort for their worldly needs just as they ignore their hereafter.
Practical applications of the belief in qadar requires that a Muslim should always be thankful to Allah, for he owes all his favors to Him. We should be thankful during times of good so that we do not become arrogant and conceited. We should realize that any success we attain is from Allah, Who could withdraw it whenever He wills. We should not, therefore, be like Qarun, the evil kinsman of Prophet Musa, who had been given immense wealth, but claimed the credit for himself.
“He said, ‘I have been given it only because of knowledge which I possess.’ Did he not know that Allah has destroyed before him generations who were mightier than him in power and greater in number?” [Surah al-Qasas, 28:78]
Qarun attributed his wealth to knowledge. This was either religious knowledge, for it is said that he had memorized the Torah, or worldly knowledge, such as that of trade and commerce. He, thus, failed the test, for even if the wealth were a partial reward for piety, then in order to remain in the favor of Allah, he should have been thankful to Him and spent the money in good causes, such as feeding the poor and helping the mujahideen. And, even if he had obtained the money through some worldly business expertise, he overlooked the fact that that was only a means, and that, in fact, the means themselves could not have been obtained, maintained, and exercised without the will and grace of Allah.
“Then, when affliction smites man, he cries out to Us, then when We have removed it, as a favor from Us, he says, ‘I have only been given it based on knowledge! Nay, it is a test, but most of them do not know. Those before them said [the same], but all they earned did not avail them [anything].” [Surah al-Zumar, 39:49-50]
Patience During Times of Calamity
Similarly, we should bear patiently any calamities or misfortunes, which come our way. We should realize that this misfortune could not possibly have been avoided, for it was part of the qadar.
“No misfortune strikes, upon the earth or in your own selves, except, that it is in a record before We create it. Indeed, that is easy for Allah. [It is] in order that you do not despair over that which passed you by, nor exult in that which He has given you.” [Surah al-Hadid, 57:22-23]
At the same time, if the misfortune was brought about by some misdeed on our part, we should try to correct ourselves so as not to repeat the same mistake; we should not try to attribute our faults to qadar. If the misfortune was a consequence of some sins, then although it is a punishment, it can be a means for obtaining forgiveness for those sins. Allah will not punish a believer twice for the same sin, and the punishment of this world is far lighter than that of the hereafter.
“We shall surely test you with something of fear, hunger, and loss of wealth, life, and produce. And give glad tidings to the patient ones. Those who when a calamity afflicts them, say, ‘To Allah We belong, and to Him we return.’ They are those upon whom there are blessings from their Lord, and mercy, and they are the rightly-guided ones.” [Surah al-Baqarah, 2:155]
The Prophet said,
“How wonderful is the case of the believer! All of his matters are good for him, and this is not for any other than the believer. If prosperity comes his way, he gives thanks, and so it is good for him. And, if adversity afflicts him, he is patient, and so it is good for him.” (Muslim)
If we are not patient, however, and instead complain and are dissatisfied, then rather than obtaining forgiveness and/or raising of ranks in the hereafter, we may only be adding to our troubles.
Submission to the Commands of Allah
Since we believe that everything is pre-known to Allah, and that He is the Wise, we realize that it is always to our benefit to obey Allah. We do not, therefore, compromise on the fundamentals of our religion merely to earn a living, for we know that our sustenance is in the control of Allah. It is up to us whether we obtain what is written for us through lawful means or unlawful.
Similarly, we realize that the time of our death is already written, and if we break the orders of Allah in trying to escape death, then we are bound to fail.
“Say, ‘Fleeing will never benefit you if you are fleeing from death or killing, and in that case you will be reprieved only for a short while.’” [Surah al-Ahzab, 33:33]
The Prophet said,
“Indeed, the Holy Spirit (i.e., Jibril) has revealed me that a soul shall not die until it has depleted its lifespan and sustenance.” (Ibn Hibban)
Therefore, we can see the folly of the stance of the hypocrites and can take steps to distance ourselves from it. Allah describes them, in a time of war, as,
“While another group was thinking of only themselves and entertained wrong thoughts of Allah—thoughts of pagan ignorance. They said, ‘Have we any say in the matter?’ Say, ‘The matter belongs completely to Allah.’ They conceal in themselves what they dare not reveal to you. They say, ‘Had we any say in the matter, none of us would have been killed here.’ Say, ‘Even if you had remained in your homes, those for whom death was decreed would have gone forth to their places of death.’ Allah did this in order to test what is in your breasts and to purify what is in your hearts. Allah is All Knowing of what is in your hearts.” [Surah Ali ‘Imran, 3:154]
So, the choice is the Muslim’s, whether he dies fighting in the path of Allah and thereby attains martyrdom, or holds back out of fear, in which case death comes to him at the same time anyway.
Using Means and Precautions, such as Medicines and Supplications
The use of these does not violate the belief in Destiny. It as been related,
“The Companions asked the Messenger of Allah, ‘O Messenger of Allah, have you considered medicines with which we heal ourselves, curing invocations (ruqyah) which we recite over ourselves, and (various) precautions that we take; do they turn away any of the qadar of Allah?’ He said, ‘It is part of the qadar of Allah.’” (Bayhaqi)
So, if we are cured through using medicine, it is Allah that cured us by means of it, and Allah knew that we were going to take that medicine, although He could have cured us even without the medicine. We are, in all aspects of life, required to take certain precautions and to adopt certain means, and then to leave the results to Allah.