By Imam Murtadha Gusau
In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
All praise is due to Allah. We praise Him, we seek His assistance and we ask for His forgiveness. And we repent to Him and seek refuge in Him from the evils of ourselves and our actions. Whoever Allah guides, none can lead astray, and whoever is lead astray, none can guide him. I bear witness that there is no deity that has the right to be worshipped except Allah, alone and with no partner. And I bear witness that Muhammad is His servant and Messenger. Allah sent him before the Hour as a bearer of good tidings, a warner, a caller to Allah, by His permission, and a shining light. So he conveyed the Message and fulfilled his trust. And he sincerely advised the ummah and struggled for the sake of Allah truthfully, until death overtook him. So may Allah send His peace and blessings upon him, his family, Companions, and whoever follows them in goodness until the Day of Judgement. To Proceed:
Dear brothers and sisters! The last pillar of the Islamic faith in which every Muslim must believe is the concept of Al-Qadar, which closely translates to pre-decree, pre-ordainment, pre-destination, Divine decree, destiny or fate. When one believes in the tenet of Al-Qadar, which I’ll translate as ‘Divine Decree,’ he or she affirms that everything good or bad that happens in his or her life comes from Allah the Almighty; something He Willed to happen. Al-Qadar in Arabic, linguistically means to measure, to determine, to assess, to decide, to judge. In the context of Religion, the term translates to ‘Divine determined measurements and sustenance for everyone and everything, in accordance with His Wisdom and Power.’ Allah states in his Book:
“Indeed, all things We created with predestination.” [Qur’an, 54:49]
Allah the Almighty, being All-Knowing and All-Wise, knows of what we have done in the past, what we are doing now, and what we will do — even before the time of our birth. After all, can Allah truly be Allah if He didn’t know everything, including the future? Whereas mankind has the free will to make their own choices in life, everything that occurs in life occurs only with the Will and Power of Allah.
Respected servants of Allah! Al-Qadar comprises four components. The first component is the belief that Allah is All-Knowledgeable of and instigates all things and events — whether major or minor — at all times and places and regardless of their occurrence. The Almighty’s foreknowledge is infallible and complete. He Almighty says in the Noble Qur’an:
“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.” [Qur’an, 6:59]
The second component of Divine Decree is the belief that Allah has recorded everything from the beginning of time to the Day of Judgment, in a Tablet He has kept known as the ‘Lauhul-Mahfuz’ (The Preserved Tablet). Each’s lifespan, amount of substance, deeds, happiness, calamity, tribulation, sorrow, and more is written and recorded in this Tablet. In fact, according to a narration of Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him), Allah, the Glorious, had recorded the measurements of all matters pertaining to His creation fifty thousand years before He created the heavens and 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.” [Qur’an, 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 actions of humanity. Nothing Occurs Haphazardly; the Allah Almighty has planned everything.
“And your Lord creates what He Wills and Chooses…” [Qur’an, 28:68]
A Muslim acknowledges that whatever has touched or afflicted him, was meant to afflict him, and could not have been avoided or prevented. And whatever has not reached or afflicted him, was not meant to touch or afflict him, and he can avoid nothing unless Allah has willed it. Our beloved Prophet (Peace be upon him) narrated that:
“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. He Almighty says:
“…and has created each thing and determined it with [precise] determination.“ [Qur’an, 25:2]
Whereas Allah, the Merciful, has bestowed on every human being the free will to make his or her own decisions, that does not provide an excuse for one to sin or abandon the tasks and responsibilities they are obligated to do. The fact that Allah has predestined everything does not change the fact that human beings have the free will to choose their course of actions. Just because each’s choices are known to Allah beforehand, doesn’t mean that they will not be held accountable on the Day of Judgment for their negligence, or the decisions they make and actions they take. Allah forces nothing upon anyone. It’s also important to note that Allah will hold no one accountable for things out of their control, or for things they cannot do.
Allah is All-Just, All-Wise, and He tests humanity according to their strength, power and what their soul can bear. A Muslim acknowledges the fact that whatever difficulty they are facing will be made easy for them and that they will have a way to resolve it. Allah Almighty says:
“Allah does not burden any human being with more than he is well able to bear.” [Qur’an, 2:286]
A Muslim acknowledges that whatever befalls him or her, is in accordance with Allah’s Will and Plan, whether or not they understand and accept this fact. A Muslim place his trust and reliance in Allah, as Allah brims with Wisdom in all matters. A Muslim affirms that Allah is All-Loving and loves His servants over one’s parents do; and a Muslim affirms that whatever Allah does must have a good motive, so a believer always assumes good and does not lose faith.
Dear brothers and sisters! The topic of Divine Decree will never fully be understood and comprehended by humans, as this concept deals with the essence of Allah’s Power and Will — which is beyond what our finite minds can comprehend.
A Muslim benefits from the act of learning, believing, and understanding in Divine Decree in several ways. Amongst the benefits is the peace of mind and contentment in the heart that a Muslim attains as he or she acknowledges that nothing happens without a purpose. A Muslim is confident that whatever afflicted him could not have escaped him, and whatever missed him could not have reached him, as Allah is in full control of all happenings and events, and he predestines everything. This recognition would help a believer endure difficulties and hardships. A believer would not grieve about what could have happened if things had taken a different course, and a believer would not worry about the future because he knows that the events of tomorrow are written and predetermined already.
As mentioned earlier, Al-Qadar is an Arabic word meaning Allah’s predestination of measurements and sustenance of everything and everyone, according to His Knowledge and Wisdom. And it comprises the following aspects:
- Knowledge: The belief that Allah’s knowledge encompasses everything, every matter, major or minor, and the time frame of everything that happens in this universe. Allah’s Knowledge encompasses all of His actions and actions taken by His servants.
- Pre-Recording: The belief that Allah recorded everything in a Tablet that He kept with Himself, called ‘Al-Lauh Al-Mahfuz’ (The Preserved Tablet). Allah Almighty says:
“Do you not know that Allah knows what is in the heaven and earth? Indeed that is in a Record [i.e., Al-Lauh Al-Mahfuz]. Indeed that, for Allah, is easy.” [Qur’an, 22:70]
Abdullah Bin Amr Bin Al-As may Allah be pleased with him said that he heard the Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) say:
“Allah recorded the measurement of all matters pertaining to creation fifty thousand years before He created the heavens and earth.” [Muslim]
- The Will of Allah: The belief that nothing, whether related to Allah’s actions or actions taken by His servants, can occur without His permission. Allah Almighty says:
“And your Lord creates what He wills and chooses…” [Qur’an, 28:68]
And He Almighty says:
“…And Allah does what He wills.” [Qur’an, 14:27]
And He the Most High says:
“It is He who forms you in the wombs however He wills…” [Qur’an, 3:6]
As for actions taken by His creation, Allah Almighty Says:
“…And if Allah had willed, He could have given them power over you, and they would have fought you.” [Qur’an, 4:90]
And He says:
“…And if Allah had willed, they would not have done so. So leave them and that which they invent.” [Qur’an, 6:137]
- Creation: The belief that Allah created all creation, all what they possess of attributes, and all their actions. Allah Almighty Says:
“Allah is the Creator of all things, and He is, over all things, Disposer of affairs.” [Qur’an, 39:62]
And He says:
“…He has created each thing and determined it with [precise] determination.” [Qur’an, 25:2]
Also, Prophet Ibrahim may Allah exalt his mention said to his people:
“While Allah created you and that which you do?” [Qur’an, 37:96]
Believing in Al-Qadar, as described above, does not mean that people have no power over the actions they choose to take. The Shari’ah (Islamic Law) as well as reality, confirm man has a will of his own:
As for the Shari’ah, Allah Says about one’s own will:
“…So he who wills may take to his Lord a [way of] return [by obeying his commandments].” [Qur’an, 78:39]
And He Almighty says:
“So come to your place of cultivation however you wish …” [Qur’an, 2:223]
As for one’s own power over his actions, Allah the Most High says:
“So fear Allah as much as you are able and listen and obey…” [Qur’an, 64:16]
And He says:
“Allah does not charge a soul except [with that within] its capacity. It will have [the consequence of] what [good] it has gained, and it will bear [the consequence of] what [evil] it has earned…” [Qur’an, 2:286]
As for reality, every human knows that he has a power and a will of his own. He uses his power and will to indulge in or avoid actions of his choice. People distinguish between what they do by their own power and between what they have no power over, like shivering due to illness or the extreme cold. However, the power and will of mankind is under the control of Allah’s Will and Power; Allah Almighty says:
“For whoever wills among you to take a right course. And you do not will except that Allah wills – Lord of the worlds.” [Qur’an, 81:28-29]
The universe is Allah’s property and nothing happens in His Kingdom without His Knowledge and Permission.
We believe that Allah does whatever He wills, and nothing occurs except by His will. Nothing is excluded from His will and decree. There is no occurrence in the creation that is outside of His will. And there is nothing that happens except by His control.
Respected brothers and sisters! Belief in Al-Qadar, as explained above, does not provide an excuse for mankind to sin or abandon what they are obligated to do. This excuse can be refuted by the following arguments:
- Allah the Most High says:
“Those who associated with Allah will say: ‘If Allah had willed, we would not have associated [anything] and neither would our fathers, nor would we have prohibited anything.’ Likewise did those before deny until they tasted Our punishment. Say: ‘Do you have any knowledge that you can produce for us?’ You follow not except assumption, and you are not but falsifying.” [Qur’an, 6:148]
The disbelievers did not have a valid excuse when they said that what they did was according to Al-Qadar. If this excuse was valid, then why will Allah punish them for their sins?
- Allah Almighty says:
“[We sent] Messengers as bringers of good tidings and warners so that mankind will have no argument (or any excuse) against Allah after the Messengers. And ever is Allah Exalted in Might and Wise.” [Qur’an, 4:165]
Sending the Messengers also took place according to Al-Qadar. This is why the disbelievers cannot use Al-Qadar as an excuse for not believing, because Al-Qadar provided them with the means to escape Allah’s punishment by following His Messengers, may Allah exalt their mention.
- Ali Ibn Abi Talib may Allah be pleased with him narrated that the Prophet (Peace be upon him) said:
“The final destination, in Hell or Paradise, is already determined for each one of you.” A man said: “Should we depend on this fact, O Messenger of Allah?” (Meaning, to abandon doing good deeds) He (Peace be upon him) said: “No! Perform (good) deeds, because everyone will be helped (to go on the path that he chooses and reach his destiny).” Then he read the verse: “As for he who gives [in charity] and fears Allah.” [Qur’an, 92:5]”
- Allah conveyed His commandments to His servants and did not require them to do what is beyond their capacity; He says:
“So fear Allah as much as you are able…” [Qur’an, 64:16]
And He says:
“Allah does not charge a soul except [with that within] its capacity…” [Qur’an, 2:286]
If the servant is forced to do whatever deeds he performs, then Allah would have required from him what is beyond his capacity, and this is a false belief. For this reason, Allah forgives sins that take place because of ignorance or forgetfulness.
- Al-Qadar is a matter of Allah’s Knowledge. No one can uncover his own Qadar except after it occurs. One’s intention to perform a deed precedes the action itself. He does not know what Al-Qadar holds for him. Therefore, Al-Qadar is not a valid excuse for sinning and abandoning the commandments of Allah.
- One always seeks what is convenient for him. No one of sane mind would abandon what brings material benefit to him, saying that Al-Qadar forced him to take this course of action. Therefore, why would one use Al-Qadar as an excuse for abandoning what brings benefit to him in matters of religion and not do the same for matters of life?
- If one of those who abandon the commandments of Allah and indulge in sinning comes under attack of his honour or possessions, would he accept the excuse of the attacker, if he says that he attacked him because it was his Qadar to attack him, and therefore he is not to be blamed? Indeed no!
Therefore, why does this person refuse Al-Qadar as an excuse for whoever attacked him, and at the same time use Al-Qadar as his excuse for abandoning Allah’s rights on him?
It was reported that a man who was caught stealing was brought to Umar Ibn Al-Khattab may Allah be pleased with him who ordered that this man’s hand be cut off. The man said:
“Wait, O leader of the believers! I only stole because this was in the Qadar of Allah.”
Umar may Allah be pleased with him replied:
“And we are amputating your hand because it is in the Qadar of Allah.”
Dear servants of Allah! When facing difficulties, our weak faith can sometimes drive us to question the fairness of it all. In this context, we should remind ourselves that believing in Al-Qadar (Allah’s divine will and decree) is one of the pillars of Islamic faith (Iman). As the Prophet (Peace be upon him) said:
“It means belief in Allah, His Angels, His revealed Noble Books, His Messengers, the Day of Judgment and to believe in Al-Qadar (the divine decree) both good and bad.”
As part of that belief, we should, therefore, recognise that Allah does what He wills for reasons that are only known to Him. Any attempt to comprehend the wisdom of it all using our limited faculties, or to understand how our current situation fits in His overall plan can only lead us to erroneous conclusions resulting in increased frustrations.
We, as Muslims, should accept Allah’s Decree both as it manifests itself around us and in our lives. It should be a relief to us that only Allah is the master of our destiny and we are only going to be tested about whether we reacted to what befalls as true believers and Mu’mins, i.e. being patient in adversity and grateful in prosperity.
All praises and thanks are due to Allah alone, Lord of the worlds. May the peace, blessings and salutations of Allah be upon our noble Messenger, Muhammad, and upon his family, his Companions and his true and sincere followers.
Murtadha Muhammad Gusau is the Chief Imam of Nagazi-Uvete Jumu’ah and the late Alhaji Abdur-Rahman Okene’s Mosques, Okene, Kogi State, Nigeria. He can be reached via: [email protected] or +2348038289761.