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Limited Free Will

The balanced doctrine of Predestination is based upon professing His Will, Power to plan and execute, His ‘Timeless Knowledge’ and limited freedom of choice granted to man for trial. Nothing exists in this world or hereafter except by His will, His timeless knowledge, His determining and predestining, and except it be written on the Preserved Tablet (al-Lauh al-Mahfuz). Allah says: “No misfortune can happen on earth or in yourselves but is recorded in a decree before We bring it into existence, that is really easy for Allah; that you may not grieve for what escapes you, nor rejoice in what has come to you. Allah does not love any vainglorious boaster” (Qur’an;57:22-23). He inscribed everything there in the sense of description, not that of foreordaining. Determining, Predestining and Will are pre-eternal attributes of unknowable modality. The Fate exists, whether good or bad, which Allah has measured and ordained for all creatures according to His previous knowledge and as deemed suitable by His wisdom. Thus each saying, deed, or omission of the people is known to Allah, Who has recorded, willed, and created them. Allah says: “And had Allah willed they would not have fought one against the other; but Allah does whatever He desires”(Qur’an;2:253); “Thus have their (so-called) partners (of Allah) made the killing of their children to seem fair unto many of the idolaters, that they may ruin them and make their faith obscure for them. Had Allah willed (it otherwise), they had not done so. So leave them alone with their devices.” (Qur’an;6:137); “but you cannot will, except by the will of Allah. Surely Allah is All-Knowledgeable, All-Wise. He admits to His mercy whom He wills, and for the wrongdoers He has prepared a painful punishment.” (Qur’an;76:30-31); “Yet your wishes are of no avail unless Allah, the Lord of the worlds, pleases so” (Qur’an;81:29).

Allah has granted power and limited free will to human and jinns by which they can perform certain actions by use of their wisdom i.e. to choose between right and wrong. It was due to the ‘free will’, which enabled the Satan (Iblis, a jinn) to disobey the divine commandment; to bow down to Adam, the first human as token of respect to God’s vicegerent. However later Satan requested for respite, and permission to lure in the man from the true path, towards the evil path of disobedience and transgression. God as per His Wisdom and plan, granted him the permission. On the other hand despite having been warned by Allah against the  evil designs of  Satan, Adam fell in to the trap by allowing himself to be seduced and thus disobeyed His Lord (Qur’an; 7:14-18, 20:117-121) by his free will. Adam prayed for mercy and God forgave him: this way of forgiveness for repentant sinners, continues for the humanity: So say: “O my Lord! grant thou forgiveness and mercy! for Thou art the Best of those who show mercy!”(Qur’an;23:118). It is mentioned in Qur’an: “Say “The Truth is from your Lord”: let him who will believe and let him who will reject (it): for the wrongdoers We have prepared a Fire…”(Qur’an;18:29); “Then Allah will say to him: “My revelations did come to you; but you denied them, were arrogant and you were among the disbelievers.”(Qur’an;39:59). As for those who believe and do good deeds, rest assured that We do not waste the reward of him who does a good work”(Qur’an;18:30);“He Who created Death and Life that He may try which of you is best in deed: and He is the Exalted in Might Oft-Forgiving.”(Qur’an;67:2); Say: “It is He Who has created you (and made you grow) and made for you the faculties of hearing seeing feeling and understanding: little thanks it is ye give.”(Qur’an;67:23); “Certainly, We have destined many Jinns and human beings for hell; those are the ones who have hearts with which they do not understand, they have eyes with which they do not see, they have ears with which they do not hear. They are like animals – or even worse than them, because they are those who are heedless.”(Qur’an;7:179). However it is not with in power of human to do what ever they desire, their choice of Free Will is limited, for example man can stand on one leg, but to lift both legs he has to get some support. The choice involves a corresponding personal responsibility. Although every action is already in the knowledge of Allah and nothing can happen unless He approves or desires, but it does not necessarily imply that He is happy with what ever man does due to freedom provided. Every doer of actions feels that he does or does not do a thing without any coercion. He stands up and sits, comes in and goes out, travels and stays by his own free will without feeling anybody forcing him to do any of these actions. In fact, he clearly distinguishes between doing something of his own free will and someone else forcing him to do that action.

The Islamic law also wisely distinguishes between ‘freedom’ and ‘coercion’. A wrongdoer is not punished for an action done under compulsion, like eating forbidden food (Qur’an;5:3,6:119, 16:115): “Allah does not charge a soul beyond its capacity’ (Qur’an;2:286);“There shall be no coercion in matters of faith. Distinct has now become the right way from the (way of) error: hence, he who rejects the powers of evil and believes in God has indeed taken hold of support most unfailing, which shall never give way: for God is all-hearing, all-knowing.”(Qur’an;2:256); “(O Prophet)  keep on giving admonition, for you are an admonisher not a taskmaster over them. As for those who turn their backs and disbelieve, Allah will punish them with the mighty punishment.”(Qur’an;88:21-24). If the action is not done by the individual’s free will, then praising the virtuous is a joke and punishing the evildoer is an injustice, and Allah is, of course, far from joking and being unjust. Allah has sent messengers who are: “bearing good tidings, and warning, so that mankind might have no argument against Allah after the messengers.”(Qur’an;4:165); “Verily this (Qur’an) is no less than a Message to (all) the Worlds: (With profit) to whoever among you wills to go straight” (Qur’an;81:27-28). If the individual’s action is not performed by his free will, his argument is not invalidated by the sending of messengers and scriptures. Qur’an says; “This is Paradise; you have inherited it by virtue of your past deeds.”(Qur’an;43:72). Hence it is evident that once every thing is ‘Preordained’, then there appears to be no justification for reward and punishment, but after providing guidance; God has granted ‘freedom of choice of faith and deeds’ to human which makes them accountable for the choice of good or evil. Allah will not reward or punish any one on the basis of His timeless knowledge, but as per the faith of individual and deeds performed, which will be produced as a record (Qur’an;83:7-9,18-21) and witnessed on the day of judgment: “That will be the Day of your accountability, O mankind! Surely you must strive towards your Lord, a hard striving, then you shall meet Him.”(Qur’an;84:6);“On that Day man shall be told about all his deeds, from the first to the last. Indeed, man shall bear witness against himself,”(Qur’an;75:13-14);“Then those whose balance (of good deeds) is heavy they will attain salvation”(Qur’an;23:102).

Hence man should think, plan and make sound choice, but if things do not happen as desired.  manner, he should not lose faith and give in to stress and strain. A Muslim should have strong faith in Allah and accept whatever happens, because human knowledge is limited and his thinking is based on personal contemplation, whereas God has infinite knowledge and He plans on a universal basis. The most common example of a teacher, who after observing an intelligent and hardworking student predicts that he will get first position in the final examination, while an other student who is dull and does not work hard is likely to fail. The teacher writes it down and keeps it in a safe place. At the end of academic year, the results are similar as predicted by the teacher. The teacher can not be blamed for the failure of the dull student or success of other one. It was the intelligent guess work based on the knowledge and experience of the teacher. Allah is supreme in His knowledge. It is obvious that the good Muslims don’t have to sit down, do nothing in the hope that what ever is written in the destiny will be given. Allah says: “The idolaters say: “If God wanted, neither we nor our forefathers would have worshipped any one else but Him, nor made anything unlawful without His will.” Such excuses were put forward also by those who went before them….”(Qur’an;16:35); “..Then when they went wrong Allah let their hearts go wrong: for Allah guides not those who are rebellious transgressors.”(Qur’an;61:5). No one knows what is written in the destiny, may be bad luck to sit idle and get doomed. So one ought to strive for the best (good) and work accordingly, with the hope that Allah may create favorable circumstances to achieve the good for this world and hereafter.

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